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Bill Gates joins the tweet brigade

Who would win in a Twitter popularity contest between Bill Gates and Ashton Kutcher? The answer: Ashton for now, but Mr Microsoft is creeping up the rear. Two days day after signing up to the mini blogging site Bill Gates is already boasting an impressive 271,020 followers.

Gates previously branded social networking sites as 'way too much trouble.' But two years after making that statement it seems he has embraced the connection between micro blogging and free marketing. He has created Twitter and Facebook accounts, and is using both to publicise charitable causes such as his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Haiti Earthquake.

Bill still has a long way to go before he knocks Ashton Kutcher - the most followed Tweeter, off his perch: Kutcher's fanbase extends to 4,402,028 followers. On hearing the news that Gates had joined the site, Ashton tweeted: 'I'm happy to give you a tutorial, but I charge by the hour. We can discuss rates offline.'

Bill, can you afford it....?

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