Oklahoma lawmakers: Social media being used more
Several legislators who use social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter say they are effective ways to communicate with constituents.
Some said they were apprehensive when U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., said last week that his Twitter account had been hacked and someone sent a lewd photograph of himself to a woman. Weiner admitted Monday that he had sent the picture.
In Oklahoma, several officials or their staff frequently change passwords and monitor the accounts to delete any inappropriate names of followers or content posted by followers. Several post personal and government items on their personal accounts, but some have political pages on Facebook where they put information about governmental issues and events.
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, has a personal Facebook page where he posts personal and Senate information, but he’s not an avid user, said Jarred Brejcha, Bingman’s spokesman.
Brejcha and other staff members oversee and update a Facebook page and a Twitter account for Senate Republicans, which mostly contain information about legislation.
Brejcha said “a good portion” of the 48 senators have a Facebook or a Twitter account.
“To my knowledge, they all update their own accounts,” he said Tuesday.
Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, mixes personal and legislative messages on his Twitter account. He also has a political Facebook page where he posts campaign and legislative events. He also maintains a personal Facebook account, which is aimed mostly for family members and friends.
“I try to keep them somewhat separate, but it’s hard to,” he said. “Anybody who’s in a public position should always be concerned about having control over what you’re putting out there … but I don’t have too much of a concern that there are political opponents on either side are trying to hack into social networking sites.”
Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said he posts mostly legislative matters on his Twitter account and tries to restrict personal comments to his personal Facebook page and legislative matters and his weekly column on his Facebook political page.
“Everything becomes a blurred line when you’re in politics,” he said. “People don’t really see the difference unless you yourself are isolating it completely and then people think you’re hiding something. So with mine, everything’s an open book.”
During the December 2009 blizzard, he used his social media accounts to post information on power outages and where residents could seek shelter.
“People were charging their cellphones in their cars and following my updates to get information because all of the power was out,” Dorman said. “That is just the best example of how you can help people through social networking.”
House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, does not use any social media for personal or legislative matters, said John Estus, the speaker’s press secretary.
The subject of social media use to stay in touch with constituents and report what is happening at the state Capitol was addressed briefly with freshman House members during last year’s orientation session, Estus said.
“All Oklahoma House members are fully aware that in this day and age, they need to exhibit the same good judgment in their use of social media as they would with any other form of communication, public or private,” Estus said.
- Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau
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