Should a politician come under criticism for using Twitter too much? That's the question that came up in Colombia in early March, after Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro fired an impressive 233 tweets in just 17 hours from his personal account. That's roughly a tweet every four minutes, according to news magazine Semana.
Petro's Twitter-record occurred on a day in which the city government was trying to diffuse protests that paralyzed Bogota's public transportation system. And Petro was updating people on how the situation unfurled on the ground. But according to Semana, Bogota's mayor spends a lot of time on the social media site, averaging more than 90 tweets on an average day.
Petro's opponents wonder if the mayor has any time left in the day to carry out his regular duties with all the Twitter action taking place on his phone. They also claim that Petro is taking decisions on the whim, based on what Twitter users think about the city´s problems.
But mayor Petro says that he is trying to directly communicate with citizens, instead of going through "indirect" channels like newspapers or TV. When a Twitter user told him to get off Twitter and start solving the city's problems, the mayor responded with a tweet of his own. "I'm working, are you?" Petro wrote.
Regrettable Social Media Etiquette
Some political leaders are not the most clever when it comes to social media, and instead end up embarrassing themselves on these sites.
This year, one of the winners in this category was Mauricio Benitez, a political activist for Cristina Kirchner's Peronist Party in Buenos Aires. Benitez somehow found himself a spot on an Argentine trade delegation to Angola. What did he do in the African nation? Well, he posted a picture of himself on his Facebook account where he is happily handing out socks with political propaganda to needy African kids. The picture went viral, angering Argentine citizens who could not understand why a low-level official like Benitez was taking a free trip to Angola and handing out socks that say that Clarin, the paper that most fiercely opposes the Kirchner government, is full of "lies."
Of course, when it comes to insulting the citizens of an entire nation it's difficult to beat Hugo Chavez's daughter Rosines, who posted this picture of herself on her instagram account.
Seeing Rosines,15, fanning a stack of U.S. dollars as if this was a totally normal part of her existence did not go down well with Venezuelans. That's because Venezuelans have to surpass all sorts of obstacles, and pay exorbitant amounts to trade local currency for greenbacks, thanks to Hugo Chavez's tough foreign exchange controls.