The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

The State Department’s dueling Twitterati

The Urban Dictionary defines "Twitterati" as "The Tweet elite, whose feeds attract thousands of followers and whose 140-character spews capture the attention of the rapt who doggedly monitor them." At the State Department, that honor applies to two rising stars, Special Advisor on Innovation Alec Ross (@alecjross) and Policy Planning staffer Jared Cohen (@jaredcohen). Both ...

The Urban Dictionary defines "Twitterati" as "The Tweet elite, whose feeds attract thousands of followers and whose 140-character spews capture the attention of the rapt who doggedly monitor them."

At the State Department, that honor applies to two rising stars, Special Advisor on Innovation Alec Ross (@alecjross) and Policy Planning staffer Jared Cohen (@jaredcohen). Both tech celebrities in their own right, the two are competing for the coveted title of most-followed State Department tweeter.

Ross was a famous Internet entrepreneur before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton created a new position to bring him into her personal office. So it's not surprising that he has over 269,000 followers on Twitter. His tweets range from updates on his work related to Internet freedom to personal updates like "Kids in bed so Mommy and Daddy getting some Thai food and watching a movie..."

The Urban Dictionary defines "Twitterati" as "The Tweet elite, whose feeds attract thousands of followers and whose 140-character spews capture the attention of the rapt who doggedly monitor them."

At the State Department, that honor applies to two rising stars, Special Advisor on Innovation Alec Ross (@alecjross) and Policy Planning staffer Jared Cohen (@jaredcohen). Both tech celebrities in their own right, the two are competing for the coveted title of most-followed State Department tweeter.

Ross was a famous Internet entrepreneur before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton created a new position to bring him into her personal office. So it’s not surprising that he has over 269,000 followers on Twitter. His tweets range from updates on his work related to Internet freedom to personal updates like "Kids in bed so Mommy and Daddy getting some Thai food and watching a movie…"

But he’s running second to Cohen, who has more than 319,000 "tweeps." On Cohen’s feed, you can find links to articles, ways to help Haiti, and updates on his many media appearances. Cohen has written books but is most often cited as the guy who got Twitter to halt maintenance so that Iranian protesters could keep tweeting.

(The State Department’s official blog, DipNote, currently has  13,327 followers on Twitter, and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, who just started her own Twitter feed last week, has attracted 790 followers so far.)

So who will reach half a million followers first? Ross or Cohen? Who is the better tweeter? Let me know via @joshrogin.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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