, LONDON, Jan 3 – He first built his empire on newspapers, but octogenarian Rupert Murdoch has now made a surprise bid to become a more modern media baron by joining Twitter.
A spokeswoman for his British newspaper wing News International confirmed on Monday that the 80-year-old had gone where many elderly technophobes fear to tread by setting up an account on the popular microblogging site.
His account, @rupertmurdoch, went live on December 31 and his musings on everything from politics to New Year’s resolutions have already gained him a following of more than 52,000 Twitter users after two days.
He made a shaky debut on the site, however, with the unusually punctuated tweet: “Have just. Read The Rational Optimist. Great book,” in reference to a work by Matt Ridley.
In one message to Twitter’s executive chairman, Jack Dorsey, who helped him set up the account, Murdoch discussed his resolutions for 2012.
“My resolutions, try to maintain humility and always curiosity. And of course diet!,” he wrote.
He was not shy about heaping praise on his sprawling News Corp. global media empire, whose interests range from newspapers such as Britain’s Times and the Wall Street Journal to news channels including Fox in the United States.
“Great op-ed in WSJ today on Ron Paul. Huge appeal of libertarian message,” he tweeted, referring to the Republican White House hopeful.
But Murdoch’s foray into the world of social media also attracted swift criticism, with a slew of references to the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed the British wing of his empire last year.
“Welcome to Twitter… @rupertmurdoch. I’ve left you a Happy New Year message on my voicemail,” joked former Labour party deputy leader John Prescott, referring to the illegal hacking of voicemails which led to the closure of Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid in July.