Indirect tweeting

The idea of using microblogs in political campaigns in Germany was inspired by Barack Obama’s virtual campaigning during the 2008 presidential elections in the USA. Thus, the first german elections where Twitter was used as a political tool were the electoral campaigns in Hessia in early 2009. During these elections, all mayor parties used Twitter for political outreach and social-democratic candidate Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel (@tsghessen) made himself a brand by establishing the credibility of twittering himself. His authenticity was later damaged, when one of his campaigning advisers updated his own account and @tsghessen with the exact same tweet within a very short time.

This poses the question if politicians can delegate the use of mircoblogs, or tweet via ghostwriter and still be ‚authentic‘. Depending on the rank of twittering politicians, it might be near to impossible for some of them to regularly tweet themselves and thus, to maintain public interest over time. Given these presuppositions, delegating the use of Twitter or tweeting indirectly can be the obvious choice for public actors to make. One possible option to increase transparency would be, though, to indicate the origins of tweets by adding hints to updates by the staff. In doing so, the accounts in question would still be able to communicate with the public in the name of its owner, but in the same time, the public would be informed about the origin of tweets.


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