This is a guest post by Lisa DeCanio. Follow her on Twitter at @lisa_decanio
Last May, I joined thousands of my classmates as we flooded the Big House for the University of Michigan’s 2010 graduation ceremony. This particular graduation, though, was different than most. We had to stand in line at 6:30am to get patted down by Secret Service Agents before our speaker arrived in style on Marine One. Yep, President Barack Obama was my graduation speaker.
I’m sure his speech was inspiring. I vaguely remember him talking to us about open-mindedness, good citizenship and similar qualities a president would hope to instill in his constituents. However, I don’t remember a single word from his time at the podium. What I do remember though, is that in the middle of his speech, Mr. President updated his Twitter feed.
I was confused. As an animated speaker, his hands definitely weren’t sneakily tweeting from the inside of his academic dress. Being relatively new to Twitter, maybe I was naïve to think every account was operated by the individual’s name it bears. Either way, I was disappointed, and my faith in the transparency of both the presidency and social media took a downward spiral.
Then last weekend, President Obama gave a nod to social media enthusiasts with his announcement that he would begin doing his own tweeting from his handle, @BarackObama. Adopting the commonly used practice of signing his initials “-BO” after his updates, the American public will now get a 140-character glimpse into the president’s thoughts as he begins his re-election campaign.
While I personally am a proponent of transparency, in the wake of the Anthony Weiner scandal, it seems risky for the president to expose himself (no pun intended) to his 8.7 million followers. Can you imagine if that BlackBerry got into the wrong hands? The move practically invites hackers looking to cause a stir under Obama’s alias. Not to mention, haters wanting to publically bash him now have even more of a reason to do so via Twitter.
On the flip side, Obama’s social media campaign proved successful during his 2008 presidential run —why not go for round two? As social networks like Facebook and Twitter continue to gain momentum, tweeting from his personal account proves to be the next logical step for the president to send his message to the masses without it being filtered through mainstream media channels. For the time being, though, the president’s tweets have avoided any political references. His first tweet was a sentimental shout-out to America’s dads: “Being a father is sometimes my hardest but always my most rewarding job. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. –BO”
What do you think of President Obama joining Twitter? Will it help or hurt his 2012 campaign?