I realize this is nothing new and I am not setting the world on fire with this but I came across this post at TechCrunch and it certainly made me think a little. Barack Obama, the President of the United States admitted on his current trip to China that he has never used Twitter. Huh? Wasn’t his campaign the one that utilized social media like never before so his supporters could have a feeling that they were truly a part of history in a real sense?
This is not a political discussion so if you are getting all “blue” or “red” state on me just go read something else. This is about someone who utilized a technology for some advantage in a very important situation then admitted that he never used the technology personally. I find that a little disturbing and we, as social media professionals and watchdogs, should have some opinion on this practice (not the person or anything else, just the practice). Oh and let’s put out ‘preemptive strike’ on all of the “If you were stupid enough to think it was actually him tweeting comments ………..” People wanting to believe they are part of something genuine is not stupid. In fact, in this world it’s hard to find.
MG Siegler reports
President Barack Obama has one of the most popular Twitter accounts with over 2.6 million followers. It should be no real surprise that most of the time it’s not him tweeting from it, instead its various people within the White House communication team that use the account to send out information. And now that he is the President, certainly there are some security concerns with him using something like Twitter. But, did you know that he’s actually never used Twitter at all?
That revelation was made tonight during a Q&A session at a town hall event with Chinese youth that was held in Shanghai this evening (which was streamed live on the web). The President fielded a question about the restricted use of Twitter in China and he had this to say, “I have never used Twitter but I’m an advocate of technology and not restricting internet access.”
Once again, I know it is silly to think that someone as busy as President Obama would have the time to knock out a tweet from time to time but if that’s the case (that he has NEVER used it) I really think it would have been more transparent to know this a little earlier. In fact, if I was one of the followers that felt like I was part of something bigger I would feel a little duped. To be transparent, I have not followed a politician (to my knowledge) on Twitter because I feel I get enough spin and rhetoric just being alive so I don’t to seek more from either side of the aisle.
TechCrunch’s visual take says it all in an ‘update’ to the President’s response to his Nobel Prize.
So who was / is actually updating this account with 2.7 million followers? I don’t know and probably never will. At this point, who really cares since we know that the President has never touched the account (although it is a Verified Account for Twitter which now means what?)
What we need to be looking at as social media “insiders” is talking a great game about transparency and then allowing the medium to be questioned and eventually devalued because there is nothing that is real. Will social media just become a place for online actors and actresses to portray others? Will we a need SMAG (Social Media Actor’s Guild) card to tweet at some point? We are treading on some thin ice in these areas when we talk about accessibility but then only fake it. Maybe being genuine is just old fashioned and overrated?
Maybe this is an emerging area of the online reputation monitoring and management industry which will require policies and actions on what to do when your social media persona is ‘found out’.