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@IDGConnect A peek at the Argentine ‘White House’ Twitter-handle warfare @CasaRosadaAR @CasaRosada

Rows break out on – or over – Twitter all the time. So much so they are normally prove rather boring. But I did think the latest spat over the Argentine presidential account, reported via Yahoo, was pretty interesting.

This saw a former president refusing to hand over “official” account details. A new president setting up his own Casa Rosada [the Argentine ‘White House’] handle. And Twitter itself weighing in with its blue accreditation badge of authority.

As social media dominates public lives, this seemed to raise some real questions about who these smash ‘n’ grab – those-who-get-there-first handles – should “belong” to. And these are questions that are only going to become more relevant in the coming months and years… as these platforms become ever more entrenched.

So, what is the story?
A month and a half ago – on December 10th 2015 – Mauricio Macri was signed in as the new president of Argentina. This was a marked departure for the country, as Argentina ditched the left-wing, Peronist government which had led for decades, in favour of a candidate on the centre-right.

As part of an ongoing row, Macri’s predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner who along with her deceased husband had dominated politics for 12 years, boycotted Macri’s signing in as president. She also refused to hand over details of the “official” presidential Twitter account.

How does that work?
In Argentina, the seat of governmental power is Casa Rosada – the ‘Pink House’ – an imposing iconic pink building in Buenos Aires. This is the equivalent of the White House in the US and the official Twitter handle was @CasaRosadaAR.

When Kirchner refused to hand over the account Macri set up a new one: @CasaRosada.

What did Twitter do?
On 10th December Twitter removed the blue badge marking Kirchner’s account as a verified. But undeterred, she announced she would keep it as a “tribute to the presidencies of Nestor Kirchner [her late husband and predecessor] and Cristina Kirchner [herself], May 25, 2003 to December 10, 2015.”

How many followers to these accounts now have?
@CasaRosadaAR has 334k followers.

@CasaRosada has 170k followers.

It is little wonder the original account has nearly twice as many followers, it has been around a lot longer. But you can’t help wondering whether having two accounts might be confusing to people even though Kircher has rebranded “her” account “Casa Rosada2003-2015”.

Is there anything else to add?
Well, not specifically to do with this. But one of the more interesting details of Macri’s life is that he was kidnapped in 1991 and – rather horribly – placed alive in a coffin before his mega-wealthy father paid the proposed ransom. The New York Times wrote that he likened the experience to surviving a terminal illness and “credits the kidnapping with an awakening, putting him on a course that would ultimately lead him to politics”.

His other big social media outing story came on his 50th birthday – nearly seven years ago – where he impersonated Freddy Mercury singing “Somebody to Love”. This minor internet sensation had 18,880 YouTube views… but only 28 likes.

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