Who in Washington is joining the Twitter revolution
Congressional Twitterers include Sen. John McCain, who last year said he didn't know how to use e-mail. But don't look for tweets from President Obama.
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Go to GovTwit.com and find what is billed as the largest directory of government Twitter feeds – local, state, and federal. This week, it passed 2,000 entries, or so the organizer announced in a tweet. Another site – Twitter.pbworks.com/USGovernment – provides a long list of US government Twitterers, mostly agencies, many of them defense- and science-related.
Secretary Gates, like most people of his generation, doesn’t avail himself of all the cyber-gizmos out there for mass communication. But Admiral Mullen has taken the plunge.
“It meets needs for flexibility and adaptability, which we have to have in our forces,” Mullen said, referring to both Twitter and Facebook. Second, with a US force dominated by people in their early 20s, “this is how they live," he added. "It’s really important to be connected to that and understand it.”
At the White House, the use of Twitter is a work in progress. President Obama himself doesn’t tweet, nor do other White House officials. But there’s an official White House Twitter feed (Twitter.com/whitehouse), which functions mostly as a bulletin board. At times, it also solicits questions for town-hall meetings and other input from the public, such as a recent call for women athletes to send pictures marking the anniversary of Title IX.
Most entries from the White House contain a URL link to a full announcement, such as the one posted Thursday morning on H1N1 flu prevention, inviting entries for a contest to create the best public-service announcement. Before that, the White House informed its Twitter followers that the Department of Health and Human Services was “live-tweeting” its day-long flu summit on Thursday.
“We use Twitter in the White House as a government institution as opposed to the voice of a single individual,” says assistant press secretary Nick Shapiro in an e-mail.
Still, are there any guidelines for individuals at the White House, should they decide to tweet?
“No guidance really, all of this is evolving all the time,” Mr. Shapiro says.