Who follows @JoeBiden on Twitter and why it matters?

Screenshot of Joe Biden's Twitter account
Joe Biden’s Twitter account

It is generally considered undiplomatic for foreign leaders to endorse any candidate during an election campaign in another country, but several foreign leaders have started following the personal account of @JoeBiden.

Obviously, a follow doesn’t mean endorsement, and some leaders might still follow @JoeBiden from the time he was U.S. Vice President. However, it is interesting to see who is already following Joe Biden on the platform.

U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden has 11.4 million followers on Twitter as of 23.10.2020 less than two weeks ahead of the crucial presidential election on November 3. The @JoeBiden account is followed by 62 heads of state and government and foreign ministers, but he hasn’t reciprocated yet and doesn’t follow any foreign leader according to an analysis by BCW’s Twiplomacy.

The Democratic candidate is notably followed by the @PMOIndia, the institutional account of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Angela Merkel’s spokesperson @Regsprecher. Both accounts also follow the personal handle of @realDonaldTrump for good measure.

However, there are several leaders who have clearly taken sides following the personal account of Joe Biden but not that of Donald Trump, namely Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (@SanchezCastejon) and Norway’s @Erna_Solberg as well as the Foreign Ministers of Denmark @JeppeKofod, Ethiopia @GeduAndargachew and Finland Pekka @Haavisto and the foreign ministries of Croatia (@MVEP_hr) and Norway (@Utenriksdept).

It is unclear whether the follow of Joe Biden’s personal account is a legacy from the time he was U.S. Vice President or if it is a recent follow. But even if a Twitter follow doesn’t equate endorsement, these government leaders are taking sides if they only follow – wittingly or unwittingly – the opposition candidate.

In comparison the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account is followed by 261 of the 1,100 accounts Twiplomacy is monitoring and the @POTUS account which only retweets Donald Trump’s personal tweets is followed by 264 other world leaders.

If elected, President Biden would currently rank 10th among the most followed world leaders on Twitter, 11th on Instagram and 23rd on Facebook. It remains to be seen whether he would continue to use his personal accounts once elected as President Trump has done or revert to use the official @POTUS accounts set up for the U.S. President on all platforms.