Politwoops Keeping Politicians Honest… at least on Twitter

29 06 2012

Photo courtesy of astekblog.com

Have you ever wondered how your favorite celebrity always manages to have their tweets screenshot even after they delete them (looking at you Chris Brown fans…)? Well if your favorite celeb happens to be a politician, I’ve got the answer for you.

Politwoops.

The site created by the Sunlight Foundation says the following about what it seeks to achieve with the aggregated content:

From minor typos to major gaffes, Politwoops is now there to offer a searchable window into what they hoped you didn’t see. The project follows the official Twitter accounts of members of Congress, President Obama and the slew of presidential candidates to track whenever they delete a Tweet and record the elapsed time before removal… The Politwoops archive serves as an illuminating rough draft of how politicians and campaigns hone their social media messaging and amend their record.

Now, that’s some interesting stuff right there. And so many questions come to mind when reading this. Like, do the politicians know they’re being followed by this thing? And if so, why don’t they block them? That’s what I’d do. Sure, you might get accused of not being transparent or whatever, but it would certainly be better than letting an organization follow you whose main goal is to “track whenever [you] delete a Tweet and record the elapsed time before removal.”

That’s not where my questions stop though. I want to know things like, who came up with this idea? Did it start after the whole Anthony Wiener incident? Does TMZ use something similar internally to always catch the deleted tweets from C. Breezy? Is some grad school student trying to figure out a way to use this site as part of their research for a larger product on politics and social media? (Okay, maybe that last one is more indicative of what I would have done had this been around in 2007.)

Most importantly, I want to know why people still haven’t learned that the Twitter streets are always watching. Admittedly, I’m a newbie on the site (only marking my 2 month anniversary next week)… but there are some truths I’ve come to realize already:

a) You are a brand on Twitter, so you have to be mindful of what you put on there under your name/brand;

b) People are watching you even when you don’t think they are; and

c) you may be able to delete tweets, but not before the people in B get a hold of them first.

With those 3 truths in mind, it kind of boggles my mind that so many politicians are so lax with what they put on there. And if Politwoops is any indication, and the fact that the site seems to update constantly, it doesn’t seem like our politicians will be getting smarter with their social media interactions any time soon.

So what does this mean for the public? Well it can mean something as simple as grammar laughs (when a politician misspells something, for example, realizes it and tries to hurry up and delete the evidence). Or it can mean that when a member of Congress decides to have a momentary lapse in judgement, you’ll get to see the evidence provided by Politwoops almost immediately.

What do you all think? Is Politwoops necessary? And will you be checking it out from now on to see if your Senator ends up on the page at some point?

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