President Obama embraces social media

Barack Obama revolutionised political campaigning by using social media to the full in the run up to the presidential election, bypassing the usual handful of wealthy supporters to go straight to the grass roots. So it comes as no surprised that, now he’s taken office, the president has decided to use social media as a way of engaging with the public, opening accounts on and as well as Flickr and .

Content will mainly be derived from White House blogs, though the press release making the announcement said, intriguingly: “We’re looking forward to hearing from our fans, friends and followers.”

white-houseIt seems inevitable that the president will gain thousands, and probably millions, of followers. Will the White House be keeping track of all the comments generated on its social media sites? Will it use them to monitor public opinion and inform policy? Does it regard social media as a way of engaging in dialogue with the public, or simply as a way of informing them?

The press release doesn’t offer answers to any of these questions, so we’ll be watching to see how it all pans out. But it’s an initiative to be welcomed – and let’s hope it’s more successful than the faltering attempts of the British government to engage with the public through its channel.