A Tweeter in the White House
By Jose Antonio Vargas
So, will the BlackBerry-ing president fire off the tweets himself?
And, will President Obama's Twitter account eventually attract more followers than Ashton Kutcher's?
Given the way Obama's online team leveraged social networking sites during the campaign, it's no surprise that the White House today announced a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Myspace. In an afternoon blog poston WhiteHouse.gov, the White House new media team headed by campaign veteran Macon Phillips wrote: "Technology has profoundly impacted how -- and where -- we all consume information and communicate with one another." Just as important, technological advances have profoundly impacted what the online masses expect from their president.
In a nod to the casual, informal tone of the Web, Obama's Twitter username is whitehouse -- yep, all lower case. About two hours after the formal announcement on WhiteHouse.gov, Obama's Twitter account had 2,281 followers. It had sent five updates, two of them swine flu-related. "Check out the CDC website (www.cdc.gov) or @CDCemergency to learn more about H1N1 flu (swine flu), as well as prevention tips," read one of the Tweets.
The official White House pages on MySpace and Facebookalso link to swine-flu related information, in addition to a one minute-and-a-half video of the president -- without a suit jacket, his sleeves rolled up -- shooting hoops earlier this week with undefeated women's basketball champs, the UCONN Huskies. As of Friday afternoon, the White House had nearly 400 friends on MySpace and about 490 fans on Facebook. As the White House blog noted, the president is also active on Flickr, Vimeo, YouTubeand iTunes.
But with today's announcement, there are things to watch for in the coming weeks:
Just how will the White House new media team engage with users on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter?
Will they closely watch comments -- and respond back?
What will happen when a Facebook user voices displeasure on the official White House page? During the campaign, Obama was forced to respond to users of My.BarackObama.com, his own social networking platform, when they organized and conveyed their opposition to one of his policy positions.
This is one in a series of online columns on our growing "clickocracy," in which we are one nation under Google, with e-mail and video for all. Please send suggestions, comments and tips to email@example.com.
Posted at 5:03 PM ET on May 1, 2009
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