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Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, who only recently signed up to Twitter, has rapidly risen up the rankings to become the top tweeter in the country, despite having previously described the service as a “tool of terror.” The leader has also hired hundreds of staff to reply to tweets.

Chavez (“Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela. Soldado Bolivariano, Socialista y Antiimperialista” according to his bio), has, at the time of writing 239,994 followers and enjoys inclusion on 7,538 lists. Presumably some of which list people who are “threats to the open web“.

With “Verified Account” status on the service, Chavez follows just five others, but it’s unlikely the majority in Venezuela follow him — recent estimates put the percentage of the population that boast internet access at just 31%, although this figure has risen under Chavez’s rule.

However, it seems public engagement with the president’s new online presence has been high with over 50,000 messages reported in the two weeks since he’s been tweeting. So how does Chavez find time to tweet to the people? A newly appointed team of 200 Twitter aides will help to lighten that load, reports the AP. Chavez said of the new hires, “I’m creating a team due to the avalanche of requests, and some grievances”.

Chavez has also changed his tune on Twitter since he joined and rose to become the number one user in Venezuela. He now calls the service “a weapon that also needs to be used by the revolution.”

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Tags: Hugo Chavez, stats, twitter