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Archive for Sunday, September 20, 2009

Members of Congress tweet their own horns

September 20, 2009

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— Researchers who plodded through more than 6,000 Twitter postings by members of Congress have found — surprise! — that politicians spend most of their time on Twitter promoting themselves.

The study was designed to determine whether the social networking revolution, and specifically, the arrival of Twitter, had opened a new era of dialogue between elected leaders and the public.

But the University of Maryland team found that 80 percent of the postings fell into two categories: links to news articles and press releases, mostly self-serving and readily available elsewhere, and status updates that chronicle the pol’s latest trip to the sawmill or the supermarket.

For example, this dispatch from Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii: “just completed weightlifting workout at the Nuuanu Y.”

By contrast, the researchers found that members of Congress spent just 7 percent of their time interacting with citizens.

“Twitter by its nature is a very self-absorbed service,” said Jennifer Golbeck, lead researcher and assistant professor in the university’s College of Information Studies. “Politicians are very self-important people.”

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