Adam Green
Twitter API Consultant

Twitter Politics: What politicians get about Twitter, and the press doesn’t

by Adam Green on November 22, 2010

in Twitter Politics

Now that I am following the intersection of Twitter and politics more closely, I keep finding articles about politicians around the world adopting Twitter as a way of communicating with constituents, like this one on the European Parliament or this one about Turkish politicians. Journalists attribute this to a desire to appear to appear modern, and experts agree with them: “Sociologists and political scientists say politicians’ active use of Twitter comes from their intention to keep up with the spirit of the times.”

Sure Twitter is modern, but that isn’t its political appeal. What politicians understand about Twitter is that it is public, unlike email, paper mail, or the telephone. If a politician responds to a constituent’s question on Twitter, everyone can see that the politician cares about the people. Twitter is like a continuous political rally, where politicians can always be speaking directly to the people. This is also true about blogs, but a blog requires the reader to actively seek out the politician’s website. Twitter is the ultimate in public outcry, the 21st century version of the Athenian Agora. If Socrates was alive today, you can bet he would be on Twitter all day.

Update: This news story about Romney tweeting Palin to thank her for a positive mention in her book is a perfect example of politicians recognizing that Twitter is a performance medium.

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