Tweeting for the Party

120px-Twitter_Badge_1During the 2008 election, Democrats effectively used Web 2.0 platforms to garner interest in the campaign and win supporters.  President Obama has been widely hailed as the first “Tech President,” and he seems to have trounced the Facebook landscape.  To date, President Barack Obama has over 6.6 million Facebook friends, while Sarah Palin only has 848, 614 Facebook pals and Mitt Romney has 70, 130.

Although the President has proven his mettle on Facebook and MySpace (where he has over 1.8 million friends), Republicans rule the day on the micro-blogging front.  The Congressional Research Service reports that congressional Republicans out-tweeted their Democratic counterparts during two one-week periods this summer.  Nancy Scola attributes Congressional Republicans’ Twitter dominance to their desire to regain the public’s attention and favor now that they are in the minority.  AMERICAblogs’ John Aravosis worries that Democrats have ceded their online advantage.

No matter the current political victor in this social media landscape, Government 2.0 is here to stay.  It surely has great potential to shine light on government policymaking and to marshal public participation, especially from people who otherwise wouldn’t bother getting involved with government policymaking.  Adding the President as a friend on MySpace and joining live chats may seem to be a relatively costless endeavor as compared to writing letters or commenting on agency rulemakings.  But Government 2.0 also poses privacy risks: social media sites not only give government access to people’s policy insights but also access to all of individuals’ social media data, such as their videos, photos, walls musings, “Top 25 things you don’t know about me” lists, and the like.  Soon, I will be posting on SSRN a draft of my essay “The One-Way Mirror: Enhancing Participation and Securing Privacy for Government 2.0” (forthcoming George Washington Law Review) and hope to get your feedback.

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