President Barack Obama and Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s executive chairman, hosted the first-ever “Twitter Town Hall,” in which the President answered questions posed via 140-characters-or-less tweets. Users were asked to use the hashtag #AskObama for their tweets.
“Neither the President or I know the questions that will be asked today. That decision is driven entirely by the Twitter users,” Dorsey said at the beginning of the session, which lasted about an hour.
Though Obama and Dorsey did not know what questions to expect, the 18 questions answered by the President were not at all randomly chosen.
The White House’s statement about the town hall revealed that a “team from Twitter” and a “team of seasoned Twitter users” used a sophisticated algorithm to “select questions during the event. Additionally, Twitter… selected questions in the hours prior to the event from the pool of questions posed since last Thursday.” The selection process was meant to “make the questions regionally and topically diverse and (provide) insight into the most popular topic areas.”
A political columnist on POLITICO wrote that, “(b)ecause the tweets were moderated — and some 169,000 were submitted — it is hard to know exactly what the vast ‘crowd’ really wanted to know if it could get any question to the president.”
Obama answered questions about jobs, the economy, the debt limit and education. A question from House Speaker John Boehner asked: “After embarking on a record spending binge that’s left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs?” Obama remarked that the question, coming from a Republican, was “slightly skewed.”
On a lighter note, POLITICO offered a list of some the tweets the President did not address. Among them were:
- #askObama Do you regret taking questions from us common people yet?
- So there is this girl that is kinda into me, but Im not really sure its complicated. What should i do? #askobama
- Do you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain? #AskObama
- #askobama If Dumbledore & Gandalf battled Voldemort & Sauron, who do you think would win and wouldn’t it be awesome?