Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey was in Berlin today for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, part of his whirlwind tour of Europe to encourage world leaders to engage with voters via online social networks such as Twitter.
He wrote on his own profile page: “Just landed in Berlin for a visit with Chancellor Angela Merkel. I’ve been wanting to meet her for a while: the world needs her on Twitter.”
While Merkel herself does not (yet) have an official Twitter profile, her government spokesman Steffen Seibert has been an enthusiastic user of the social network since 2011. And he was tweeting plenty of updates about the meeting between Dorsey and Merkel – Seibert began what he called his first “Twitter interview” at 11.30am, allowing followers to ask him questions regarding the work of the Chancellor and the German government using the hashtag #fragReg.
The results of the interview were, as some critics pointed out, questionable. One source described it as: “Too many questions, too few answers, and a lot of bleating.” Predictably, there were many questions regarding Germany’s involvement in ACTA, as well as questions on his own personal opinion on the agreement. But they were only met with vague responses.
Seibert did, however, answer some more personal questions, such as what book he was currently reading (Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov), and what his favourite song was (Anything by Mac Miller).
While an interesting experiment in direct citizen-to-government communication, there were no new major insights in the 45 minute session. As Seibert himself suggested, perhaps questions should be sorted out prior to the interview the next time around.
Dorsey had announced in January at the DLD conference in Munich that a Twitter office will be opened in Germany this year, revealing that he sees great potential in the German market.
And his talk with Merkel comes a day after a similar meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, where the pair discussed proposed laws that would tax foreign internet giants, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google, in France. The influence of Dorsey and Twitter seems to have already worked on Sarkozy, who has an active Twitter account with more than 120,000 followers.
The question still remains as to whether the slightly more dour Merkel will follow suit and begin telling voters her thoughts in 140 characters or less…