President Barack Obama made headlines this weekend after achieving another of many firsts: for the first time, the White House announced an upcoming full news conference through social networking Web site Twitter.
The San Francisco-based social media startup was in a bit of turmoil early last week over news that a hacker had breached the site’s security, accessing hundreds of executive documents. Because the hack will probably not have very lasting serious effects, the company is moving on. And this past Friday’s announcement from the White House quickly took the hack off of everyone’s minds as we are all reminded of Twitter’s incredible influence.
The White House, since the election of President Obama, is no stranger to Web 2.0 technology and social media. In the months leading up to the 2008 election, Obama offered a pretty clear view of things to come, as his campaign team aggressively utilized the power of the Internet to spread their message of “Change.” Now with the election long over, those campaign strategies have transformed into White House announcement platforms, informing U.S. citizens across the spectrum of social media.
Here’s a comprehensive roundup of the White House’s social media presence:
Official Web site. This is the central hub for all information coming out of the Executive Department. For anyone looking to investigate the nitty-gritty of what’s happening in the White House, what legislation the President is pushing for, or just to take a look at long-term plans, the main Web site is the place to start.
Blog. Updated multiple times a day, the White House blog (accessible right from the official Web site) probably serves as the all-around best place to quickly and easily see what the President and Vice-President are doing in Washington on a daily basis.
Facebook. This page is essentially a summary of what is being published on the blog, but if Facebook users subscribe, they can have updates show up on their news feed.
YouTube and Vimeo. Primarily hosts to President Obama's weekly address, these competing video sites both provide access to the same videos on the Executive Deparment's various activities.
Twitter. Like the Facebook page, this is (for the most part) a republishing of blog news. With the administration experimenting with a special announcement this past Friday, however, the instant tweets could become the main source of up-to-the-minute updates.
Flickr. The number one spot for professional high-quality photographs of the President and his day-to-day doings.
MySpace. Even more than the Facebook and Twitter pages, the White House MySpace page appears to be little more than a slightly modified replication of the White House blog.
The best part about the White House’s widespread permeation through social media networks is that it eliminates the often-cited excuse by apolitical citizens that their apathy stems from lack of information and governmental transparency. Whether you enjoy reading blogs, watching videos, or simply checking your Facebook or Twitter, there’s at least one avenue for you to see what your government is doing.
No matter what the history textbooks say about his administration’s various political feats and blunders—those to come and those already passed—President Obama will undoubtedly go down as not only the first African American president, but also the first Web 2.0 president. Here’s to hoping his successors don’t put an end to the tweets.