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LONDON – He has more options than most when it comes to being able to air his views on a public platform. And he’s just endured a year that would give most people every reason to retreat beneath the radar. But none of that has stopped the 80-year old chairman and CEO of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, from joining the democracy of Twitter to share his enthusiastic thoughts and opinions – as well as very publicly getting to grips with the new technology.
After launching his account on News Year’s Eve with the post “Have just. Read The Rational Optimist. Great book,” @RupertMurdoch was verified as authentic by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and attracted more than 21,000 followers within 24 hours of his debut.
So far the News Corp CEO has proved an eclectic enthusiast, posting a dozen tweets on a range of personal, business and political topics in his first day. So far he has opted to follow only four fellow tweeters, Dorsey, a fake account for Google co-founder Larry Page, Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, and famously grumpy British technology entrepreneur and long-time friend, Lord Sugar.
The mogul, whose global empire spans movie production, TV networks, book publishing, new media, satellite TV and newspapers, is clearly struggling with some of the syntactical demands of Twitter. Dubious punctuation has led to the odd cryptic message, such as the two word tweet “Alan-sugar” – a reference, in all probability, to the Sugar he follows on Twitter.
However, in less than a day aboard the social platform Murdoch has offered thoughts on subjects as varied as the New Year’s Eve party he attended (“Huge NY do. Oligarchs and Silicon Valley biggies (like Jack). May. Learn something”), time spent “uboating” in the sea with his young daughters, the new Fox-produced George Clooney movie The Descendants (“Thank God, one to be proud of. Star Geo Clooney deserves Oscar. Maybe film too.”) and his recent holiday (“Vacations great time for thinking. St Barths too many people. Thoughts best kept private around here. Like London!”)
Murdoch also posted in favor of the WSJ op-ed piece on Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul (“Huge appeal of libertarian message”) and had the following thoughts on the global economy in the year to come: “Happy 2012. May itbe better than all experts predict. Has to be! Must change everything to create jobs for all, especiallyyoung.”
Murdoch’s optimistic tone and enthusiasm will come as a surprise to many, after a year that saw him hauled before a British Parliamentary Inquiry into phone-hacking. The scandal has yet to fully play out, but has dented Murdoch’s long-cherished succession plans and forced the resignations of some of his longest serving lieutenants. It also continues to have huge financial implications for News Corp going into 2012.
There was plenty of skepticism from the Twitter community about the move. “Rupert Murdoch has apparently joined Twitter. Meanwhile everyone else changes their passwords,” tweeted @jamiep7, while former British deputy Prime Minister John Prescott welcomed the mogul to Twitter saying, “Hey @rupertmurdoch. I’m surprised you’re only following two people. The police said it was at least 800.”
There’s no doubt that Murdoch’s new account could become Twitter’s hottest and most closely-read account. And in a year when one of the world’s most powerful media moguls will likely have to give evidence under oath to a British phone-hacking inquiry – if he keeps up with his early enthusiasm – Twitter newbie @rupertmurdoch promises a degree of insight and context that is not to be missed.
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