Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Social Media And Congress

Todd Epp touched on this during our Blognic this past weekend when he talked to us about the social media phenomenon known as Twitter. He has a person he follows, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), that that "tweets" right from the House floor despite rules that prohibit such actions and co-incidentally it seems, that is becoming an issue that the House is now looking to address with a rule change proposal by Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-MA).

Current House rules prohibit members from posting any House content outside of the house.gov environment and with the explosion of such new media services like Youtube and Twitter, many of the more technically inclined House members want to be able to use these services to communicate with their constituents. Capuano's proposal would address the main concerns of those that have issues with the practice, possibilities that the information would be posted alongside political or commercial advertising, by suggesting that Congress work with the media sites to develop advertising free channels that would allow members to "tweet" ad free.

Now if you thought all is right within the halls of Congress now that Capuano has sought to bring our government into the 21st century, you would be wrong. Rep Culberson, whom is the most active user of social media, looks at the proposal as an attempt at partisan censorship and in good social media fashion, he announced his opposition in a "tweet"
"I just learned the Dems are trying to censor Congressmen's ability to use Twitter Qik YouTube Utterz etc - outrageous and I will fight them"

While I won't go as far as Culberson and liberal blogger Matt Stoller who contends that Capuano's proposal would amount to an outright ban on Congress using the Internet, something will need to be done sooner or later.

Culberson wants totally open communication similar to what they already have when dealing with traditional media and Capuano wants to ensure that we aren't fighting through Viagra ads so hopefully something in between ends up getting agreed to.

In the mean time there are several House members currently breaking the rules besides Rep. Culberson including Speaker Nancy Pelosi so feel free to seek them out and follow their "tweets" as to be honest I can't think of a better way for us to communicate with our elected officials. How cool would it be to have updates on important issues delivered directly to you from your elected officials as they happen?

And speaking of Twitter, if you are a member, click here if you would like to follow the escapades of this new Twitter user and go here if you want to follow the movement to "Let Our Congress Tweet". And finally, if you have no idea what I am talking about, here is an explanation of what Twitter is.

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