British PM joins Twitter, draws immediate heavy fire

David Cameron follows many other politicians in joining Twitter, after previously snubbing the microblogging service before he rose to power.

"Hello Britain, Dave here." Twitter; Screenshot by Zack Whittaker/CNET

British Prime Minister David Cameron has joined Twitter, following in the footsteps of dozens of other global leaders.

Verified account holder @David_Cameron joined the microblogging site on Saturday, a day before his Conservative political party starts its annual conference in Birmingham, U.K.

During the weekend, the prime minister amassed more than 88,000 followers at the time of writing on his newly-created personal account.

Twitter U.K. announced the joining of the country's leader on its blog, noting that his signing up makes him the 370th member of the U.K. Parliament on the site -- or more than half of Britain's elected representatives.

In his inaugural tweet, Cameron said: "I promise there won't be 'too many tweets...'," referencing a comment he made on U.K. radio three years earlier that resulted in heavy criticism.

In 2009, then-leader of the opposition Cameron was forced to apologize after commenting: "The trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it -- too many twits might make a t**t," in an interview live on-air during the early morning breakfast show.

At the time, Twitter had an estimated 32 million users, according to a Wall Street Journal report months before the radio interview. By comparison, the microblogging site hit the 100 million user mark only a year later.

Within minutes of posting his first tweet, Cameron came face-to-face with the British public in the seemingly virtual comfort of cyberspace, which responded with some messages of support but also barraged with strong criticism.

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott noted in a tweet: "So of the 12 people @david_cameron is following, 100 percent are Tory politicians #diverse," while political satirist, writer and producer Simon Blackwell said that he: "Heard that @David_Cameron is definitely real, but the man running the country is a parody account."

Meanwhile, comedian Josie Long pulled no punches by tweeting the prime minster: "I'm sorry to have to let you know like this, but everybody really dislikes you and disagrees with what you're up to."

The prime minister still has a way to go before his popularity on the microblogging site matches his political allies and opponents alike. Current leader of the opposition @Ed_Miliband has 165,000 followers, whereas close political ally U.S. President @BarackObama has 20.6 million followers, the sixth most popular Twitter account on the network by follower count.

Parody account @Queen_UK, posing as the British monarch, has more than 947,000 followers -- a figure that represents more followers than the top 10 British politicians on Twitter combined.

Don't worry, Mr. Cameron. It's still early days yet.

 

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