WHEN Tweeting, The Early Bird Gets the Worm

8 10 2009

Just over a decade ago when the internet was termed the “new media” of the time, politicians were just beginning to scratch the surface of how to utilize technology to further their own political agendas. The first politician to really take advantage of the internet for his campaign was Bob Dole, who famously encouraged supporters to visit his new web site at the end of a debate. However, instead of sending the public to BobDole.org, he announced that it was BobDole.com.

In the same way, as politicians are just discovering the uses of new social media tools in their careers, we are witnessing some politicians missing the mark among the numerous examples of best practices.

A recent graduate of our very own School of Media Arts & Design here at JMU and a friend of mine, Renee Revetta, recently published a post on the Search Mojo blog which detailed the legal aspect of Twitter in regards to “name-squatting,” or claiming a Twitter name unrightfully. Since registering for an account is so simple and requires no identification validation, anyone can claim a username that may mislead followers. Despite Twitter’s young age, businesses and politicians alike have already encountered problems with name-squatting. One famous example occurred last August when Melissa Sue Robinson, a controversial transgender candidate for Mayor of Nampa, Idaho, discovered an imposter acting as her and posting crude and updates on her presumed official Twitter.


In the days of Bob Dole, politicians aspiring to run for office in the future were advised to snag their desired domain URL for a future web site, even if only to avoid having to purchase it from someone down the road. But now, with social media expanding so rapidly, politicians must think about many different networking mediums including Twitter. Celeste Stewart of Associated Content recommends that future politicians sign up for Twitter IMMEDIATELY, regardless of preparedness or even campaign timing, because avoiding name-squatters is becoming such an issue. So, to all you presidential candidates preparing for a big race in 2012… I hope your Twitter is, too.



3 responses

8 10 2009
Casey Shaw

I definitely agree that politicians, both current and those who plan to go into that career path in the future, should be on top of their twitter presence. If they don’t, who knows what kind of fan (or enemy) could pose as them and possibly damage their reputation. I really thing that one of the greatest incentives and drawbacks of social media is anonymity, because that ability can be used for good and bad purposes. With social media on the rise, the most progressive candidates should probably be using the technology anyway.

12 10 2009
Amy English

I recently posted about fake Twitter accounts among professional athletes (http://englisaj.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/twidentiy-theft/), and it’s astounding how easy it is to impersonate someone on Twitter. It is a relatively new social medium that probably didn’t anticipate imposturous accounts in their future, so they are reactively taking steps toward tracking and terminating fake Twitter accounts. Politicians should link to their Twitter page on their website to reinforce the account’s credibility. I also agree that political candidates should sign up for a Twitter account as soon as possible to avoid this identity theft situation, just as they were advised to get a personal domain URL in the past.

13 10 2009
Ashley Siegle

Wasn’t this defined as “astroturfing” in class? It’s almost unfortunate that a political candidate, or any up and coming figure, may have to publish a Twitter account years in advance simply to avoid a scam artist. This reminds me of earlier years, when I would come across my favorite celebrities on MySpace and/or Facebook (in the very early years) and think that he/she was real, and that I was SO close to them in the online world! Creating a profile is one thing, but a Twitter account? Someone really cares about lying what this celebrity had for breakfast, or how that athlete is going to spend their weekend afternoon? Perhaps the content may be a little more complex, but I don’t understand why someone would want to spend their lives imitating another’s.

I’ve thought about how this compares to CEO not necessarily writing their own blogs, but then realized that CEO’s are active and aware of what’s about to be published. And for the most part, they approve it. This act, however, is anything but endorsed.

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