History was made this weekend and it had nothing to do with the debt ceiling negotiations.
OK, that’s not entirely true, it did have something to do with the debt ceiling negotiations – albeit the degree to which depends on who you ask. What we’re talking about here is President Obama’s use of Twitter to rally his political base against the Republicans in Congress to reach an agreement before Tuesday’s deadline in an unprecedented use of social media by an American President.
Using the hashtag #compromise, the Obama Administration social media team spent Friday tweeting out the Twitter handles of lawmakers from around the country and encouraging supporters to Tweet them to reach a compromise on the negotiations.
The results are a little hard to measure: On one hand, President Obama lost roughly 36,000 followers (less than 1 percent of his overall total) and caused a firestorm on the web from people accusing him of trying to bully the Republican Party.
Of course, though, the two parties did reach an agreement that the President announced Sunday night, something White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said helped pressure Congress to act.
So that leaves more than a few questions about social media when it comes to politics and the current administration: Will this become a common method for the White House to rally support for a given issue or was it a one-time deal? Was the administration doing a good job of engaging citizens to speak out on a given topic or was it trying to harness bullying tactics to get its way? Does this method give a stronger voice to a vocal minority or is it democracy at work?
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