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The White House Joins Facebook, MySpace, Twitter (And Makes Friends with the Rest of Government)

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, May 1 2009

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Today the White House took a big step towards recreating the ubiquitous Internet presence that the Obama campaign created with the simultaneous launch of profiles on three major social networks: Facebook (Facebook.com/WhiteHouse), MySpace (MySpace.com/WhiteHouse), and Twitter (Twitter.com/WhiteHouse).

In creating the new social media pages, the White House endorsed the Internet maxim that no matter your prestige, power, or stature, it often makes more sense to go to where people already are than to wait for them to come to you. "Technology has profoundly impacted how -- and where -- we all consume information and communicate with one another," reads a post on the White House blog titled "WhiteHouse 2.0" in which the White House announced the new sites. "WhiteHouse.gov is an important part of the Administration's efforts to use the Internet to reach the public quickly and effectively -- but it isn't the only place."

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To get the sites launched, the White House new media team has had to learn to work within a number of limitations that didn't burden the campaign -- from White House computer systems that block certain social networking sites to legal concerns over how the Presidential Records Act applies to new media.

An important point: The White House seems to appreciate their unique -- and potentially powerful -- role in the new media ecosystem. Being the chief executive (and the current high popularity of Barack Obama) gives them the power to attract eyeballs and online attention far more than is the case for the rest of the executive branch. In many ways, that's the inverse of the potential to actually create valuable online content and tools, as the agencies and departments often enjoy more staff, more money, and greater freedom to innovate online than the White House does.

And, so, the White House is acting as a good Web 2.0 friend to the rest of the executive branch. They're borrowing a page from Jeff Jarvis, in doing what they do best and linking to the rest. The White House's brand new Facebook page, for example, is given over to the latest information on H1N1 (nee "Swine flu") from the Centers for Disease Control.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Mugs

No surprise here, but email list open rates are down; the real reason campaigns want to send you a free bumper sticker; Hillary Clinton wasn't alone in dodging inquiries from the House Oversight Committee about private email accounts; organizing opt-outs from high-stakes testing on Facebook; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Edges

Let the White House know what you think about the new homepage; why Democrats need a competitive primary to maintain their edge in political tech; California Highway Patrol reminded to not talk about how they track political protesters on social media; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Anomalies

Rallying uncommitted voters under a centrist umbrella; a defense of aggregation for a positive-sum Internet; UK says no to ban on killer robots; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: In It To Win It

Hillary Clinton's updated Twitter bio; lots of election data-porn, if you're into that kind of thing; the debate over digital keys and backdoors; protests by hologram; and much, much more. GO

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