The askers will be beholden to Twitter’s strict 140-character limit. But the commander-in-chief will be his usual loquacious self.
That’s because Obama won’t be typing his responses. The town hall, while touted as an online event, will be hosted just as any normal president does any normal town hall. The president will be in front of a camera in the East Room of the White House to answer the tweeted questions. Which means, for him, there will be no 140-character limits. “He’s just answering the questions. He’s not typing and tweeting,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
During the town hall event Obama will be joined by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who will help monitor the online conversation, driven by the hashtag #AskObama. At the July 6th Town Hall meeting, Dorsey will help Obama field questions streaming into the White House via the @TownHall Twitter feed. The president’s answers will be webcast live online.
While it is a uniquely online event, the question remains: can it really be considered a Twitter Town Hall if Obama won’t be tweeting his answers? Numerous political debates in recent years have taken questions from Tweeters, and this event seems hardly unique. In fact, Obama himself is a relative newcomer to Twitter. While his @BarackObama account has nearly 9 million followers, the president sent his first personal tweet on the account just two weeks ago for Father’s Day.
And despite the range of users the Twitter town hall is likely to drum up, the White House notes Obama will field questions only about the economy and jobs. Perhaps that’s to stifle any potential technology questions?