Social Networks Tech & society

Obama Campaign Ditches Twitter, Facebook


I’ve said this so often I feel like a broken record, but here goes: there is a big difference between electioneering and governing. Those differences extend to constituent communication, in no small part because of the prohibition against using government (public) resources to get elected (or re-elected).

How else to explain the fact that the Barack Obama campaign (notice I did not say “Barack Obama” — I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that he was personally engaged in these spaces) has posted nothing on its Twitter account or its Facebook account since 5 November 2008, the day after the election?

Instead, the electioneering team (the campaign) has morphed into the about-to-be-governing team. They have an outward-focus on, but that’s a very controlled space, not unlike

Another reason for abandoning these social spaces: they’re great for mobilizing but not so great for deliberation.

The campaign used Twitter as a one-way blast medium, anyway. The BarackObama Twitter account is following 151,346 other accounts! That’s mass media, not personal media, no matter what the message “feels” like when it arrives on your phone, in Tweetdeck, via your RSS reader or on the web.

How do you think these tools will evolve or play out in future elections? Or in governance?

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By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

3 replies on “Obama Campaign Ditches Twitter, Facebook”

“…they’re great for mobilizing but not so great for deliberation.” Great point. So: what’s missing from these tools/spaces/whatever that prevents them from being useful for things other than mobilization? I think it’s about the types of conversations they facilitate. On Twitter and Facebook, it’s tough to have a lasting conversation with large groups of people that really hashes out an issue—and there’s a definite limit on how much you can draw from them. In future elections, I think the shape of these dialogues will change pretty dramatically, and voters will be smarter and more engaged as a result. Fingers crossed that the same will happen in governance.

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