Meet the Mind Behind Barack Obama’s Online Persona
You’ve most definitely seen it by now. Michelle Obama, wearing a red-and-white checkered dress, stands with her back to the camera. Her arms are wrapped around her husband, the hints of a smile lingering on the edges of his lips. “Four more years,” reads the text, which was posted on the Obama campaign’s social media accounts around 11:15pm on election night‚ just as it became clear the president had won a second term.
The photo, taken by campaign photographer Scout Tufankjian just a few days into the job, pretty much won the internet: 816,000 retweets, the most likes ever on Facebook; thousands of reblogs on Tumblr. And yet it wasn’t chosen by the president’s press secretary, or even a senior-level operative, but by 31-year-old Laura Olin, a social media strategist who’d been up since 4am. For the first time since the campaign ended, she talked to Tumblr, in partnership with The Daily Beast, about what it’s like being the voice of the President — where millions of people, and a ravenous press, await your every grammatical error.
So how does it actually work, being the voice of the President? Who makes the decisions about what to post?
All of our decisions were made in-house — in Chicago, mostly — so we weren’t getting direct directives from the White House or anything. But we tried as much as possible to have voices for each account, so depending on the message — because we had all these channels — we had an appropriate place to put it. Obviously some stuff was sufficiently huge so that it went everywhere, but as much as possible we tried to tailor the message for the channel and the audience.
It must be daunting.
It was kind of terrifying, actually. My team ran the Barack Obama Twitter handle, which I think was probably most susceptible to really embarrassing and silly mistakes. We didn’t ever really have one, which I still can’t believe we pulled off.
Recently released documents reveal that the Department of Homeland Security is keeping tabs on us via our social networks.
According to an internal DHS document released by theElectronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the department and/or a DHS subcontractor is searching social networks like Facebook and Twitter for all kinds of keywords, which are then made into reports about “items of interest” (IOI). The list of terms is HUGE, and according to the blog Animal New York, ”the DHS can also add additional search terms circumstantially as deemed necessary.”
(link via mohandasgandhi)
It started with this Feb. 23 post on the Future Ex Banker blog (now MIA). It landed on The Huffington Post — of course! — the next day.
A few months old, but this piece from the Awl that I must have missed about Twitter (and other social media) and local slang is worth your time.
“I’m in denial that I’m in a totalitarian society,” Huang told me over lunch in Beijing. “I’ll pretend I can function how I want to function and see how far I can get. I get messages from my followers whenever I state the obvious, saying, ‘Huang, be careful! We want you around!’”
Huang once posted the entire text (in 140-character excerpts) of a letter by controversial artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained by police last year and was allegedly tortured and intimidated before being released. As Huang weiboed, she and her millions of fans watched the posts go up and then, within seconds, come down. “It was fun,” she said. “It gave me adrenaline. In China you can be naughty and Big Brother still cares. In most countries, no one cares what you say.”
From Vanity Fair, a piece on China’s Twitter equivalent, Weibo, which is rapidly growing (250 million users right now, currently gaining around 10 million per month) and heavily censored.
At a Congressional hearing this morning that veered into contentious arguments and cringe-worthy moments, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spilled the beans on their social media monitoring project.
DHS Chief Privacy Office Mary Ellen Callahan and Director of Operations Coordination and Planning Richard Chavez appeared to be deliberately stonewalling Congress on the depth, ubiquity, goals, and technical capabilities of the agency’s social media surveillance. At other times, they appeared to be themselves unsure about their own project’s ultimate goals and uses. But one thing is for sure: If you’re the first person to tweet about a news story, or if you’re a community activist who makes public Facebook posts—DHS will have your personal information.
The hearing, which was held by the Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Intelligence headed by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), was highly unusual. Hacktivist collective Anonymous (or at least the @AnonyOps Twitter feed) sent a sympathizer to the visitor gallery to liveblog the proceedings under the #spyback hashtag.
This Chart Is a Lonely Hunter: The Narrative Eros of the Infographic
We’ve given today’s visual storytellers considerable power: for better or worse, they are the new meaning-makers, the priests of shorthand synthesis. We’re dependent on these priests to scrutinize, bundle, and produce beautiful information for us so that we can have our little infogasm and then retweet the information to our friends.
In these exclusive interviews, we speak to Professor Philip Kotler (S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management and described as ‘the most influential marketer of all time’) and Martin Lindstrom (Chairman and founder of Buyology Inc, who was voted one of the World’s 100 Most Influential people by Time magazine). We discuss the nature of ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ together with the role branding plays in our economic and social world.
Your phone might know you better than your own mother. If Facebook doesn’t figure out how to make money on mobile advertising someone else will.
Advertisers are salivating. But, she says, “If you think about all the things Facebook knows about us, I think it can begin to seem a bit creepy.” Especially if you consider what else Facebook could learn using our phones.
And that brings us to another big risk facing Facebook’s business: privacy.
“Privacy is Facebook’s Achilles’ heel,” says Jeff Chester, a privacy advocate at the Center for Digital Democracy. “Its entire business model is based on selling of user data to advertisers large and small.”