Home Twitter Banned From White House (UPDATED)

Twitter Banned From White House (UPDATED)

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs mentioned casually to CNN today that Twitter is blocked on official White House computers. Gibbs clearly doesn’t appreciate the value that can be derived from the innovative social network; he jokes about it as if it is a tool for personal exhibitionism.

Many readers here will no doubt recognize that there’s a whole lot more that can be done with the service than that. This is from the same administration that won’t let its employees at the State Department use Firefox (State Dept. for IT admin reasons), so perhaps nothing is surprising. The Twitter admission by Gibbs was excerpted in a video embedded below, originally reported by Andrew Malcolm of the LA Times.

Update: On Monday morning, Rachel Sklar at Mediaite reported that some White House staff do in fact have access to Twitter from White House computers and there is work underway to extend that access to a larger group of employees. That sounds like good news to us.

Malcolm points out the irony in the White House having several official Twitter accounts, but blocking the service from its employees’ computers. Perhaps that’s why President Obama hasn’t been able to update very often since being elected.

Some cynics will say this is great news, that taxpayer money isn’t being wasted on using Twitter on White House time. Note, though, that Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently took to Facebook to have conversations with the public about energy policy, for example.

When it comes to rapid, public conversations and easy relationship building, Twitter is better than Facebook. There is a long list of very innovative “Government 2.0” advocates moving conversation along quite quickly on Twitter. Beyond conversation, the network of people on Twitter offer rapid research assistance, some of the fastest news delivery on the planet and other clear sources of value for knowledge workers. If the White House doesn’t want its employees to have access to resources like that while at work, it’s honestly a loss for all of us.

Update: This isn’t surprising, but long-time tech innovator Mitch Kapor said last night, on Twitter, that despite the ban “staffers tell me they use own iPhones or other own devices to read Tweetstreams.” There’s clearly a demand from some staff for access to this valuable service, even if some people like Gibbs don’t get it.

You can find ReadWriteWeb (via editor Richard MacManus) on Twitter, as well as the rest of the RWW Team: Marshall Kirkpatrick, Bernard Lunn, Alex Iskold, Sarah Perez, Frederic Lardinois, Jolie O’Dell, Dana Oshiro, Steven Walling.

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