President Tsai’s Twitter account receive big boost in followers

President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) / CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) Twitter followers have increased by more than 100,000 over the past four weeks, passing the 900,000 mark and making her personal Twitter account one of the most popular social platforms for the dissemination of government information.

The surge in Tsai’s Twitter followers came after netizens responded to a call by the president’s social media team in early March to counter China’s propaganda efforts globally.

According to staff at the presidential office, China has long conducted a propaganda war on coronavirus-related issues on Twitter. Its foreign ministry created an account in November 2019 which was soon followed by Chinese diplomats and embassies.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, unhappy with Beijing’s performance in influencing international public opinion, instructed China’s foreign ministry to focus more on this area in January, according to Chinese Communist Party journal Qiushi.

In response, Tsai’s social media strategist Sidney Lin (林鶴明), a former presidential spokesman, rallied Taiwanese netizens in early March to engage in an international-level information campaign on Taiwan’s efforts to combat the coronavirus and attracted 106,000 new Twitter followers for Tsai in one month.

Tsai’s Twitter account, which was created in June 2010, currently has more than 925,100 followers.

Responses to Tsai’s tweets have also hit a new high recently.

A tweet on March 11 showing solidarity with Japan in fighting the coronavirus pandemic garnered more than 200,000 likes and another tweet on March 30 expressing condolences at the passing of Japanese comedian Shimura Ken, who died of the coronavirus infection, received 236,000 likes.

Japanese media, such as NHK, Nippon TV and TBS, have also quoted Tsai’s tweets in their news reports.

On April 1, Tsai called a press conference announcing Taiwan’s pledge to donate 10 million surgical face masks to the United States, European countries and the nation’s allies to help their front-line health workers protect themselves.

The press conference was streamed live for the first time on Tsai’s Twitter account, as well as other social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, further increasing Taiwan’s visibility amid global efforts to combat coronavirus pandemic, the presidential office said.