Comms + policy. Author of #digitaldiplomacy (2015), Twitter for Diplomats (2013). My views here.
Thomas Jefferson didn’t have Facebook or Twitter. But centuries before social media, the tradition of presidents reading citizens’ letters might well date back to his presidency.
These letters, I think, do more to keep me in touch with what’s happening around the country than just about anything else. Some of them are funny, some of them are angry, a lot of them are sad or frustrated about their current situation.
— President Barack Obama
From Jefferson to Barack Obama, technology has made it easier for presidents to maintain this centuries old tradition, which has essentially remained the same. Until now!
The The White House has just launched a new way to contact the president using Facebook: the first-ever Messenger bot — “a first of its kind for any government the world over,” as Jason Goldman, the White House Chief Digital Officer, explained in a Medium post.
“Today, we are peeling back the curtain and taking you behind-the-scenes with the First Lady’s new Snapchat account. […] By following the First Lady on Snapchat, you will see stories of the 62 million girls around the world who aren’t in school and find ways you can take action,” Kelsey Donohue, Office of Communication for First Lady Michelle Obama, said on Medium.
As Josh Miller, Director of Product Management at the White House and a former Facebooker, explained: “This decentralized approach, in response to the proliferation of social media, aims to provide the American people with a multitude of ways to engage with their government.”
As part of this strategy, in May last year POTUS joined Twitter and a few months later Facebook — this is in addition to Barack Obama’s social media channels run by his foundation Organizing for Action and used earlier for its campaign.
The White House has been actively experimenting here on Medium too — which it joined in 2014. In addition to managing 5 publications, the White House has used Medium to publish the entirety of the President’s 2015 State of the Union Address right before its delivery in Congress, as well as the full text of last year’s Iran Deal.
Obama has about 5 months left in office. I’m sure more is yet to come!
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