President Barack Obama and his team have been resting on the strength of their social media efforts in the 2008 election for some time now. While they have been doing so, the world of digital media has passed them by, creating venues for political mobilization, policy debate and checks and balances unseen in any previous administration. In short, the right has overtaken the digital space in response to a largely secretive and out-of-control White House. But Robert Gibbs has a new spin on the White House’s social media efforts.
In an interview with The Hill newspaper, via Twitter, the current White House press secretary said: “The president campaigned on an open and transparent administration, and it’s clear that the ability for citizens of this country to directly question those that work in the government [via Twitter] is an obvious and good thing.”
Sorry Robert, nice try. While it is commendable that the White House makes any effort to open new dialogue streams with citizens, the occasional tweet or YouTube video does not equate to “transparency.” In fact, this has been the most non-transparent government perhaps in decades.
Twitter is a vehicle for information; a means to an end. Its use is by no means synonymous with releasing more information in a timely manner to allow for a more informed electorate. That the White House does not understand, or fails to admit, this shows how far removed they are from the social media phenomenon.