Votes, Photos, and Book Recommendations: How Politicians Use Facebook


Pickett said they post pictures of Enzi fishing, his old Eagle Scout pictures, and what he and his wife are doing. They also post book recommendations based on what the Senator has read.

"Some people don't care about his policy views, but think its [his book recommendations] are interesting. It's a different group," said Pickett.

Julie Hasquet, Press Secretary to Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said, "If is an important policy or vote, we put it out, but we want to show more about the Senator, especially what he does in Alaska. We don't want his Facebook page to be a regurgitation of press releases."

Staffers Showing Politicians' Personalities

Are you getting the real thing if you track your elected representatives online?

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., relies on her press staff to update her Facebook page, which is written in the third person, but updates her Twitter feed herself.

"On Twitter, she [Senator McCaskill] writes, reads and personally responds to dozens of tweets per week," said Laura Myron, her deputy press secretary.

"The deputy press secretary and I do the mechanics, but the Senator [Begich] stays in touch -- it's time-consuming to update, so quicker to have an e-mail exchange," said Hasquet.

Furthermore, according to Pickett, "Nothing [on Sen. Enzi's Facebook page] is in the first person." Writing in third person helps to notify constituents that a staff member is updating the page.

"It's understood the staff is going to help," said Glickfield.

"It does not bother me that staffers update pages," said Irene Lapp, a Facebook user from Wyoming.

However, some Facebook users feel that staffers should have a more limited role.

"I expect it [staffers updating Facebook pages], hence the element of distrust of all that is written on their Facebook profile," said Bryan Baird of Wyoming.

Facebook users also are concerned about staffers limiting the conversation.

Pete Shoults of Missouri said, "[Staffers] try to control what should be a two way conversation tool into propaganda."

Josh Sternberg, a former communications professor and CEO of Sternberg Strategic Communications, agreed. He said, "A lot of politicians just use social media as a broadcast mechanism."

The press staff ABC News talked to said they only delete posts and comments when they are rude or in appropriate.

"We don't edit if people disagree. People can't be malicious. That is changing the point of the page," said Wymer.

Actual Amount of Communication on Facebook Seems Limited

Despite Facebook's communication abilities, the amount of connection it actually creates seems limited.

When Rep. Forbes asked his fans how they feel about the Wikileaks, only 20 out of close to 7,000 responded.

And though Sam Puletasi found a job opening advertised on Hanabusa's page on Facebook and applied, he has not yet received a response.

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