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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 friday >

First POST: Net Effects

Ballooning digital campaign teams; early registration deadlines kept millions of people from voting in 2012; love letters to Obamacare; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Data-Driven

Get to know Clinton's digital team even better; Ted Cruz election announcement-related fundraising offers peak into the coming data-driven campaign arms race; New York City launches online community engagement pilot program called IdeaScale; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Too Much Information

Will Facebook become the Walmart of News?; Hillary Clinton's digital team; how easy it is to get your hands on 4.6 million license plate scans; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Firsts

Political reporters use Yik Yak to pep up stories about Ted Cruz's campaign announcement; The New York Times, Buzzfeed and National Geographic may agree to let Facebook host their news on its servers; Google fiber users to soon get targeted television ads; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Cowed

TedCruz.com for president; Meerkat fever; who does Facebook work for (probably not you); Medium, "the billionaire's typewriter"; and much, much more. GO

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