You can now ‘poke’ the White House. Earlier today the White House officially joined Facebook, MySpace and Twitter (H/T The Atlantic Politics Channel). This follows a trend of introducing blogs to various government agencies, as well as Twitter feeds. For full benefit, you would need to have accounts with Facebook and MySpace (I do not), but you can follow Twitter without one, and syndicate Twitter updates with a regular RSS feed tool. If early trends hold, the Obama Administration will use Twitter to feed news releases to the public. It will also ReTweet, or repost, Twitter messages from other federal agencies.
The Obama campaign utilized social networking tools effectively during the campaign. It’s unclear to what extent they will repeat this pattern, in part because the organizing and campaigning functions from those websites have shifted to an organization called Organizing for America. I have no idea if this will be earth-shattering. Many of the changes brought about by using this media have been shown through the campaign, and won’t necessarily seem new in a governing context. An interesting side issue will be what happens if any of these social networking services handle some consumer issue badly. Would the White House have felt the obligation to weigh in on the recent changes in Facebook’s terms of service (and the associated privacy concerns) if it had its page then?