Only nine out of 193 UN member states own Twitter accounts bearing their country name, and only three of those accounts have been officially verified by the micro-blogging site.
In “Twiplomacy”, a study said it had found that most country name accounts were held by private individuals and that three out of five were either dormant, inactive, suspended or protected.
Only the @GreatBritain, @Israel and @SouthAfrica handles were verified by Twitter as official accounts run by the countries' governments or tourism boards, Luefkens said.
Sweden's Twitter account @Sweden, with 65,000 followers, is meanwhile run jointly by the government-linked Swedish Institute and the country's official tourism board, but has likely not been verified by Twitter due to its “democratic” format, allowing a new citizen to host the feed each week and tweet about anything that comes to mind.
One of the researchers involved in the study said he was not surprised that more governments did not have control of their country handles, pointing out that “it is only just dawning on them that this is a powerful vehicle for communication.”AFP