(AFP) – Jan 28, 2009
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Some Republicans eager to share real-time details of their closed-door talks Tuesday with US President Barack Obama didn't bother with anonymous leaks -- they went right to Twitter.
"Good salesman, bad product," Representative Jeff Flake posted on the site, which is home to streams of real-time updates no more than 140 characters long and has an estimated four to five millions users according to a recent study.
On Tuesday, the social media site was abuzz with details and generally positive judgments from inside Obama's meetings with Republican representatives and senators.
"Closing comment from Pres. Obama: He'd rather be a one-termer who addressed real issues than a two-termer who didn't. That went over well," Representative Bob Inglis said in one of his eight updates on the meeting.
The White House did not so much as raise an eyebrow about the reports from inside what were supposed to be private talks, and House Republican leadership aides denied rumors of a possible push to set ground rules for using Twitter.
"We're in really uncharted territory," Inglis spokesman Price Atkinson told AFP by telephone, sounding caught between amusement and surprise at the media attention to his boss's "tweets."
The "technologically savvy" Inglis, who has his own page on social network Facebook and a channel on YouTube, created his Twitter account in late 2008 after hearing about it from his brother in law, said Atkinson.
"Bob does all his own postings," said Atkinson. "It's not staff ... And I don't control him."
The lawmaker was drawn to Twitter because, for members of Congress, "it's a great way to give 'followers' an inside take on what they are doing, and to get the message out," he said, using the technical term for the people who "follow" a given Twitter stream.
Sites like Twitter have given rise to all manner of political questions: What can you safely say? How do you observe US laws that divide campaign spending from government work?
And there's one issue that sounds vaguely like a political philosophy final exam essay question.
"If someone 'follows' you, do you have to 'follow' them?" Atkinson asked.
Inglis currently has 559 followers and follows 92 other Twitter users.
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