Those @BarackObama tweets? Not from Obama

Those @BarackObama tweets? Not from Obama

[Ed. – A good one to keep in mind.]

As The Wire reported last April, and as many, many people still seem not to realize, the Twitter account that bears President Obama’s name and image is not actually tweeting on behalf of the president. Instead, it’s controlled by Organizing For Action, the 501(c)(4) non-profit that took over the reins of the 2012 Obama campaign’s organizing activity early last year. This is perfectly legal — OFA rents the account from the still-extant campaign infrastructure — but it’s obviously confusing to users.

When I spoke with an official from OFA last year, I was told that the organization didn’t think people should be confused. The account’s bio clearly states it’s run by OFA, and it notes that any tweets actually from Obama will be signed “-bo.” (Over at least the past four months, there have been zero tweets signed in that way.) But the bio only shows up when you go to twitter.com/barackobama; retweets of OFA’s Obama tweets don’t indicate that it’s not the man himself doing the tweeting. …

… at no point, it seems, has the OFA used the @BarackObama account to clarify to people that they’re mistaken in thinking the account is Obama himself (or even his staff) tweeting the president’s thoughts.

This week, OFA more deliberately played on that misconception. After football player Michael Sam came out as gay, @BarackObama tweeted this: [Congratulations on leading the way, @MikeSamFootball. That’s real sportsmanship.]

[…]

Is this OFA expressing its congratulations to Sam? … What’s the voice here?   After the Sam tweet, I reached out to OFA by email and phone to clarify who was speaking (so to speak) in that tweet. My questions weren’t answered. …

That tweet from @BarackObama about the [Netflix show House of Cards] has been retweeted over 30,000 times — an impressive social media marketing victory for any company. And if OFA wanted to, it could use @BarackObama for that for any number of things, besides simply the Obama policy initiatives that it usually uses the account to promote.

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