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Deletes of the Week: Don’t automate tweets, write them

Thursday, May 7, 2015 22:10
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By The Sunlight Foundation

An Instagram message that caused an awkward truncation when sent via Twitter, which was later deleted from the official account of Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

Despite the fact that nearly every member of Congress is on Twitter, Politwoops shows there are still those who awkwardly cut corners — with poor results.

Sometimes it takes a deeply unfortunate mistake to highlight a common problem to a wider audience. Politwoops is filled with deleted tweets automatically sent from other social media services, but a deletion this week by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., demonstrates the dangers of not having a human involved in the creation of tweets.

When Gardner’s Instagram account shared a photo of him on the phone, a truncated version of the Instagram comment appeared on Twitter as, “Took some time this afternoon for one of my favorite things I do as a Senator — calling young men…” After two minutes, it was deleted and soon replaced with a new tweet saying, “I’m always excited to call young Coloradans and let them know they’ve received an appointment to a service academy.” Since this mistake, Gardner’s Twitter account has not auto-tweeted another message from Instagram, but I’m waiting to hear if he disconnected the two accounts.

The adoption of Twitter was not easy for all politicians, so some simply automated messages from a more comfortable medium to make the transition easier; but, as we’ve seen, this can lead to deleted tweets. Two members who appeared on our ranking of the top five deleters of 2013 automatically tweeted Facebook posts. Both these members, Reps. Lois Capps, D-Calif., and G. K. Butterfield, D-N.C., appear to have reformed their ways and now write original tweets. Some bridge the unimaginative gap by interspersing original content for Twitter with automated content from another network, which is what Gardner appears to have done. In situations where you’re unsure of what to tweet and want to just copy messages from another medium, maybe it’s worth asking: “Do I need to tweet?”

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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