WASHINGTON (LIN) — If you only had 140 characters or less to ask the president a question, what would it be?
In what has become a growing trend in politics, President Barack Obama, and microblogging service Twitter, joined forces Wednesday for the first-ever Twitter Town Hall Tweetup.
Not to be outdone, the 2012 Republican candidates for president plan to have their own Twitter town hall meeting on July 20.
On Wednesday, Twitter users were asked to post questions and comments that went to moderators and Obama along with the search term #AskObama in a tweet.
Twitter co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey read the selected questions to the president.
The chosen questions were answered in the East Room of the White House and unlike Twitter users, Obama did not have a limit on how many characters he could use to answer.
Even though the town hall was slated to focus on jobs and the economy, with tens of thousands posting tweets, the White House team was bombarded with comments ranging from immigration to foreign policy maneuvers and much more. Even House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tweeted a question: Where are the jobs?” To which Obama replied, “That’s a skewed question.”
This isn’t the first social media Q & A in the political realm. Back in April, Obama held a Facebook town hall meeting in Silicon Valley, Calif., with mogul Mark Zuckerberg sitting in the wings.
Even before that, one of the 2008 presidential debates was co-sponsored by the video-sharing website YouTube, where the public videotaped and uploaded their questions for the candidates via YouTube.
One benefit for politicians using social media is the opportunity to allow their constituents a quicker avenue for posting feedback to relative issues. While a phone call or written letter would do the trick in the 20th century, a quick Facebook or Twitter post allows users more access to their elected representatives.
Daily, Twitter generates 200 million Tweets.
The White House took notice of how important this tool can be, apparent with Obama’s recent Twitter account creation as @BarackObama , and Vice President Joe Biden – @VP – tweeting his first message on July Fourth.
While social media as a whole offers unprecedented access to those who are in the election arena, it can be a double-edged sword. On that flipside, it also warrants politicians to be more vigilant when communicating to the public.
The latest politician caught in a scandal involving a social media outlet was former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. After reports that Weiner’s Twitter account sent a lewd photo to a Seattle woman, it was revealed the lawmaker had a past history of sending lewd images to constituents across the U.S. He later resigned.
In 2008, someone who had access to the Twitter account of former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., posted a tweet that included profane language. Dodd acknowledged the remark and quickly posted an apology on his Twitter account.