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The White House and Government 2.0: To Tweet Or Not To Tweet?

by Andrea Di Maio  |  July 28, 2009  |  4 Comments

(UPDATED) During an interview on C-SPAN on July 26th, when asked by the interviewer whether he was personally using Twitter, the Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that he does not, also because “for some reason Twitter is blocked on White House computers” (but primarily because he feels people already know enough about what it does through other channels).

This created a wave of tweets and blog posts about the irony of a web 2.0-savvy administration preventing its closest employees from using a much hyped technology, although the White House has an official presence on Twitter.

The day after it turned out that his statement was not entirely accurate. In fact the White House tweeted about this, pointing to an interview that the Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton gave to Mediaite. He clarified that the White House tweets are created by the new media team and HootSuite (used to post tweets) is enabled only on new media team computers. Restrictions exist on all other computers due to a combination if recordkeeping and security concerns, which are being reviewed with the White House counsel and the Office of Administration CIO.

Besides the apparent irony of the White House having issues in taking its own medicine around web 2.0, this shows the constant struggle between the institutional presence and the employee presence on new media which will characterize government 2.0 ventures for quite some time, and which I covered in a previous post.

The real irony of this story, at least for me, is that the White House tweet mentioned above points to the Mediaite story, somewhat endorsing it. What a pity the Mediaite site is admittedly hardly accessible with older browsers, such as Internet Explorer version 6, which I run on my computer: so much so that I had to read the whole story on my BlackBerry.

I wonder, does this create an accessibility issue for the White House?

Category: social-networks-in-government  

Tags: obama  twitter  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
15 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies strategies, Web 2.0, open government, cloud computing, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The White House and Government 2.0: To Tweet Or Not To Tweet?

  1. Those record keeping issues are legitimate and any government that starts communicating before dealing with them is not serving the public well. Text messaging or tweeting are communications, just like snail mail and mail – from government officials they are official communications and they need to be treated as such. This is the same thing CEOs have to think through about tweeting.

    Personally, I’d rather see government work better vs. just see its workings better.

  2. SteveG says:

    To the last point of your blog re: accessibility, my opinion is that accessibility is an issue that will go through quite a bit of change over the next 2-3 years. The flexibility of accessibility standards for disabled communities, as guided by the federal Section 508 provisions and international WCAG, will be tested as we see the increasing prominence of opensocial and other widget/gadget architectures and as more best-of-class or best-value functionality is delivered via multiple different sources, whether commercial, open source, consortium, government-fundedd, whichever.

  3. Mark Drapeau says:

    The press secretary is Robert GIBBS. Robert GATES runs the Pentagon. Also, the interview was on CSPAN, not CNN.

    You might want to read this –

  4. Thanks Mark – I just updated my post. Clearly, a Freudian slip :-)

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