Twitter gives some politicians extra attention

October 14, 2009 7:15:54 PM PDT
The value of new media in politics is causing campaigns to rethink their strategies and San Francisco-based Twitter may now be rethinking the way it treats political candidates.

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Sign onto Twitter and the San Francisco-based social networking website will suggest a list of people you might be interested in following.

"If they have interesting content and if they're interacting and engaging with users I think then we'll put them on the suggested users list because we feel that what they're providing is valuable content," Twitter spokesperson Jenna Sampson said.

On the suggested user list is ABC's George Stephanopoulos and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Making the list can bring in thousands of new followers, which is why when ABC7 saw San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and California Attorney General Jerry Brown on the list, we wanted to know why Republican gubernatorial contenders did not make the cut.

ABC7: "Had you thought about putting Meg Whitman or Tom Campbell or Steve Poizner, who are also running for governor, on that suggested users list?"

Sampson: "If we are aware of their interest, actually not of their interest, but if we're aware that they're on Twitter and they're engaging and they have interesting content, then perhaps."

Whitman, Poizner and Campbell are on Twitter, but they do not have nearly the following that Newsom or Brown does.

Up until now, the suggested user list and been mostly about celebrities, according to Bob Gardner of The Advocacy Group.

"You know, Gavin is a celebrity in a way and I guess Jerry Brown is, but I don't know why Meg Whitman isn't either," he said.

Gardner says if the list delivers followers, then it is worth something to a campaign.

Gavin Newsom's new media manager would not say how much he thinks being on the list is worth or if being on the list should be considered a political contribution.

"If the FPPC decides they want to start regulating social networking then we'll be more than happy to abide by the rules they decide to make around social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter," Theo Yedinsky said.

Wednesday, the state's Fair Political Practices Commission told ABC7 there are currently no rules on the matter, but the FPPC has asked a subcommittee to investigate if there should be.

ABC7's political analyst believes it is pretty clear cut.

"I think it's a bad policy on the part of the people who run this Twitter organization to do that, I think a smarter policy would be to keep all political candidates off and not favor one versus the other," Bruce Cain said.

To know the value of the suggested user list in politics one would have to know how many followers the list delivers and more importantly, how many of those followers are going to vote. But that is anybody's guess.

Follow Gavin Newsom on Twitter
Follow Jerry Brown on Twitter
Follow Meg Whitman on Twitter
Follow Steve Poizner on Twitter
Follow Tom Campbell on Twitter
Follow Arnold Schwazrnegger on Twitter
Follow George Stephanopoulos on Twitter

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