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The Week on Politwoops: Honing messages about Selma

Friday, March 13, 2015 9:46
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By The Sunlight Foundation

An image shared by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., and archived in Politwoops.

Image via Politwoops.

In this week’s roundup of deletions archived by Politwoops, we look at how politicians subtly honed their messages during the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, Ala.

While none of these deletions are shocking, they show how politicians are regularly and carefully manicuring their public messages to minimize controversy and distraction. The politicians and their staff may not be afraid to make edits to their deletions, but they regularly shy away from questions about why those edits occur. Despite their silence, Politwoops will continue to archive the changes, no matter what the topic, and I’ll continue to ask the seemingly difficult question: “Why?”

Last weekend, members of all political stripes came together to mark “Bloody Sunday” and the larger struggle for civil rights. They shared the event across social media and Politwoops archived some changes as politicians honed public statements. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., tweeted an image seen above of the 16th Street Baptist Church that asked the question, “Who would bomb a church?” After two minutes, the tweet was deleted and replaced with the question removed. Her account did not respond for a request for comment.

The official House Twitter account of Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who played a central role in Selma, utilized the social network to further his thoughts and share memories. Many of his statements were shared broadly, but Politwoops archived an earlier version of one popular tweet where it was changed from “together we will get there” to “we shall overcome.

A changed tweet from Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., that was caught by Politwoops.

The official account for Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, deleted a tweet after an hour that said, “Today marks 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” when a group of brave civil rights activists led by #MLK marched in Selma, Alabama #Selma50.” It was replaced by a version of the tweet that removed “led by #MLK.” His account did not respond to a request for comment.

Have a great weekend, and please let me know if you notice any accounts that Politwoops is missing!

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.


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