MADISON, Wis. — This is the question that news sources around the world are asking lately: Is Instagram the 21st-century propaganda machine of choice among the world’s dictators?
If the answer is “no,” it sure does seem to be heading that way. The idea of social media poses problems for restrictive regimes: they can either crack down on tweeters and bloggers, like President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has done, or they can try to control their public image like these three leaders have.
While many world leaders have Twitter accounts, there are very few dictators who have chosen to use Instagram as their preferred social media platform. Here are the top three dictators on Instagram that you can actually follow.
1. President Bashar al-Assad: Syria
“As the death toll in Syria’s civil war hit 100,000 and the refugee count neared 2 million, President Bashar al-Assad found it to be the opportune time to open an Instagram account.” President al-Assad often posts pictures of his British-born wife, Asma, along with pictures of children, families and crowds praising his leadership. He posts about 15 images per month, including videos of different events that he attends.
Source: The Daily Beast
2. President Ramzan Kadyrov: Chechnya
Chechnyan President Ramzan Kadyrov uses his Instagram account to post official statements and photos of his daily life activities, even his visits to the dentist’s office! After the Boston Marathon bombings, he wrote: “Any attempts to link Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs, if indeed they are guilty, are futile… They were raised in the United States, and their attitudes and beliefs were formed there. It is necessary to seek the roots of this evil in America,” with the hashtags #terroristact #Boston #consequence. From viewing his Instagram, we’ve also noticed that he really enjoys playing with animals.
Sources: The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast
Photo: The Daily Beast
3. Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: Iran
Ayatollah Khamenei is the newest of the three dictators to Instagram. He has been Iran’s absolute, divine leader since 1989. Khamenei controls the country’s military, judiciary and state broadcasting services. Many find it ironic and hypocritical that a public figure in a country that has imposed strict Internet control over its citizens is now involved in social networking.
Sources: Huffington Post, Mashable