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If a Tweet Falls in the Forest...Ein kleines Twitter-Skandal

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 4 2011

Over in Germany, it appears that the traditional political press that covers the government is all a ... upset over the fact that Steffen Seibert, the government's chief spokesman, used Twitter to announce the upcoming trip of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, without holding a press conference first! A representative of the spokesman then had to hold a follow-up press conference soothing all kinds of ruffled feathers. From an unofficial translation:

QUESTION:...Do I have to in future have a Twitter account, in order to be informed of relevant appointments of the Federal Chancellor? I am basing this concretely on the announcement by the govt, spokesman that the Chancellor is traveling to the USA.

ANSWER: In information business, you know, a lot helps a lot.
I don't believe that we have been so far churlish and that anyone who wants information from us will be surprised in the end we have favoured some channels. As professional clients of ours, we take for granted that you all are logged into Twitter. Let's say that in reverse: we do not find it bad, when you are clients of ours.

QUESTION: These Twitter items have a news-item value. .... The news service Twitter is not secure. ... There are many examples of forgeries of alleged senders. Can I be sure that what is tweeted is really valid? This can have real consequences....

ANSWER: We've done what is technically possible. We know about the risks of the internet. If anyone has doubts about a tweet, I recommend ringing the CvD office. In our experience we have found our tweet service gladly accepted. Since we are not only a Press Office, but also an Information service of the Federal Government for all folk in Germany, we hold it to be right to be doing this....

QUESTION: ...As an older man, who is not so skilled with these newfangled forms of communication, a basic question: has there been an announcement from the Press Office, that now important information is also broadcast over Twitter, and one possibly has to register as client, customer or follower - I do not know, what that means?

ANSWER: As far as I know, yes. I am happy to find out if you are on the list. I am sure we have already done that in our own interests.