White House to Twitter town hall

The White House will host the first ever "Twitter town hall" Wednesday July 6th on the economy and the President's plan to create jobs. President Obama will participate in the live webcast at 2 p.m. Eastern where he will answer questions submitted via Twitter.

People who would like to submit a question should use the hashtag #askObama. So far thousands and thousands of questions have been submitted this way, White House officials said.

When the format was announced, AFL-CIO tweeters circulated the following message to their followers urging them to re-tweet it: Millions of working people want to #askObama: Where are the JOBS?

According to White House social media expert Macon Phillips, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey will host the forum and only questions collected via the Internet will be answered. Twitter, not the White House, will use filters to moderate the event and to find common themes and hot topics and to eliminate spam or advertising.

"We're excited about bringing new voices into conversation with the President," Phillips told reporters on a conference call Tuesday July 5. Right now, the @WhiteHouse Twitter account has more than 2.2 million followers.

"The focus is to bring in a lot of new perspectives and questions from around the country," Phillips explained.

The White House believes this platform will allow them to both carry on a conversation on pressing issues but will also allow them to gain a new understanding of public opinion. "We've entered a different information age where people get news and information in a different way than they did in the past," said White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. "If you're going to communicate with the broad public, it is no longer sufficient to do it through traditional mainstream media."

During his campaign in 2008, the Obama campaign was known for pioneering uses of social media to build his political base, raise funds, and communicate with voters.

Since 2009, the White House has hosted Facebook forums and Youtube events. Pfeiffer compared these events to innovative use of traditional media like radio, TV networks, and print media by past presidents.

"We're always on the look out for ways to have a productive interaction with the public in new and exciting ways," Pfeiffer said.

Recently released survey data from the Pew Research Center showed that about eight in 10 Americans use the Internet, and about six in 10 of them use a social network like Facebook or Twitter. The survey also found that people are more politically engaged and develop more social relationships and closer imitate ties with friends and families.

Twitter is unique among social networks because it is based on the same technology as the text function on many cell phones. Survey data indicates that Twitter users are also disproportionately people of color and younger than the general population.

But because Twitter allows only 140 characters per message, won't the conversation be limited?

"As someone who is often on Twitter and trying to squeeze complicated ideas into 140 characters, I am fully sympathetic to that challenge," Pfeiffer said.

"It is important to understand that a growing percentage of people are getting their information entirely through mobile devices and smart phones," he added.

Users will be able to communicate in increments or share links to web pages of they have longer messages they need to share.

Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • Hello! I really liked your forum, especially this section. I just signed up and immediately decided to introduce myself, if I'm wrong section, ask the moderators to move the topic to the right place, hopefully it will take me well... My name is Jack, me 34 years, humourist and serious man in one person. I apologize for my English

    Posted by msdorikbrand, 07/06/2011 12:35am (9 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments