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Twitter not blocked at White House

No Fail Whale at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!

No Fail Whale at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!

A previous post contained a video of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs telling C-SPAN that Twitter was blocked on White House computers. Apparently Gibbs was wrong. The Christian Science Monitor Blog reports:

On Friday, we passed along a remark that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made on C-SPAN – that everyone’s favorite microblogging site was banned on computers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The revelation shocked the geekosphere – wasn’t this the same White House that touted its Facebook and Twitter presence a couple months back? Turns out Gibbs’ comment wasn’t entirely true.

Thanks to a little sleuthing by Mediaite, the world now knows that there isn’t some draconian regulation prohibiting tweets from the seat of power of the western world.

According to White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, Gibbs’ remark was accurate – access to the twitter.com Web site is blocked – but not because of any conspiracy.

Why the block? “A little bit of recordkeeping a little bit of security but we are working with WH counsel and the Office of Administration CIO [Chief Information Officer] to review and relax these restrictions,” Burton wrote.

Also learned from Burton’s exchange with Mediaite:

Updating @whitehouse falls to the White House’s New Media team, whose offices are housed in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and thus not subject to the same security and recordkeeping regulations.

@BarackObama, the Twitter handle that many credit with helping to elect 44? That’s maintained by the Democratic National Committee.

So, while the Obama White House still has some work to do to catch itself up to the 21st century – remember back in January when staffers compared moving into the West Wing to “going from an XBox to an Atari“? – it isn’t opposed to Twitter. As TechCrunch’s MG Siegler points out, they tweeted twice about Twitter today: once to clear up this blockage business, and once in an attempt to reach a million followers.


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Welcome! Who am I?

Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.