Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

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

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, May 1 2009

skitched-20090501-141019.jpg

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."

whitehouse_social

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 tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

GO

monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

GO

The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

GO

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

More