Legislative / Regulatory | Technology & Social Media

Social media raising issues, eyebrows among politicians

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Government is so, well, social these days.

Our BlackBerry-totin', tweetin', Facebook friend of a president isn't the only politician making use of social media these days. Consider:

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was posting updates on Twitter during President Obama's inauguration. Sample tweet: "Just arrived at podium. Took my breath away. I have never and will never see a more amazing sight." Sample tweet No. 2: "Scalia in a really weird hat."

Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra landed in some hot water after being accused of breaching security by tweeting his location during a recent visit to Iraq. Hoekstra defended his actions and laughed off the episode by referring to it as a "Twitterversy."

Twitter even helped Democrats in Virginia's Senate avoid a coup of sorts. Rumors recently spread that a Democrat was considering switching parties, and since the Democrats held a slim 21-19 edge in the Senate, such a move would have given Republicans the upper hand. Then Jeff Frederick, who chairs the state's Republicans, tweeted about the rumors. Democrats caught wind of the tweet, approached their colleague and convinced him to stay put. The moral of the story, according to The Economist, can be found in a text message from Republican Web guru Patrick Ruffini: "Be authentic on Twitter. But still keep a frickin' secret when you need to."

We'll be hearing more of these sorts of stories as social media's political role expands. I'm guessing most of the stories will center on security issues. One thing is certain: It's going to be fun to follow.

Should lawmakers be free to use social media on the job? Let us know what you think, then follow your favorite politicians on Twitter and on Facebook.


Bill Sheridan