President Obama is urging Americans to use Twitter to support his employment bill, in an effort to use social media to push political agendas.
The “Tweet for Jobs” tool makes it easy for people to address Republican lawmakers in 140 characters or less, even if they aren’t Twitter-savvy or politically aware. Users must enter their e-mail and physical addresses plus zipcode on the Tweet for Jobs Website to contact the Republican legislator in their area, or to reach Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner if they don’t have one.
People can then choose from a menu of prewritten tweets to send. For example, “I’m one of your constituents, and I’m urging you to pass the American Jobs Act now to strengthen our economy. #passthebill”
This is the first national effort calling for constituents to tweet, rather than call or write, Congressional representatives, pointing to increased political awareness of Twitter’s reach and impact. According to Pew Internet and American Life Project, eight percent of online Americans use Twitter, which translates to about six percent of the adult population.
President Obama has embraced social media in the past. His Twitter town hall earlier this year drew nearly 170,000 questions and comments on the site, evidence that the Obama administration recognizes technology’s potential for increasing participation in the political process.
Critics of the tweeting tool question whether flooding Republican’s Twitter accounts with repetitive tweets is an effective way to garner support for the $500 billion jobs package. Still, form letters, pre-written e-mails, and telephone scripts have long been employed by both political parties and grass roots organizations to contact legislators.
The White House is pressuring Congress to push the jobs package through, and social media sites like Twitter may continue to be an important in drumming up support and getting the public involved.