Last Tuesday Hacktivists supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allegedly hacked Twitter accounts belonging to NPR and CBS. Once in, they tweeted that bombs had exploded at the White House and President Obama was injured.
Minutes later the stock market steeply dropped, yet there was silence from the administration's online team in spite of new public engagement guidelines that would seemingly require some sort of response, letting the world know the tweets were false.
Sleeping On The Job?
Eventually, Press Secretary Jay Carney advised the traditional media President Obama was fine stating, "I was just with him." One would think the administration would have guidelines in effect regarding a response policy for social media activity having an effect on the President, national security or something serious enough to wreak economic chaos, even for just a few minutes. Thankfully, @CBSNews fairly quickly tweeted that we should disregard AP Tweets about a disturbance at the White House. Soon thereafter the stock market recovered the losses it suffered earlier in the day.
White House Policies Ignored
So, what are we to think of the April 1, 2013 Privacy Impact Assessment for the Office of Operations Coordination and Planning Publicly Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative Update? This document specifically references implementing tracking and monitoring social media networks.
I'm also wondering about the recently released "Social Media Metrics For Federal Agencies" policy that specifically provides for government agencies to "More effectively [distribute] critical information to citizens and communities, whether for emergency response, education or awareness."
Should we be concerned that while other news media was tweeting about these events, the White House was tweeting about the previous day's White House Science Fair and Press Secretary Carney's Twitter feed had not been updated for days?
Maybe I'm off-base here, but I think the lack of White House response to these events via social media is outrageous. Not just because there are policies in place to handle events like this, but because it is just common sense to want to put the public at ease when they may be thinking a bomb exploded at the White House and the President of the United States was injured. This just a week after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing several people and injuring many others.
Remember when we were meant to believe this was a tech-savvy President? Remember all those photos and stories about how he couldn't stay off his Blackberry and they finally had to take it away from him?
Am I making too much of this apparent gaffaw? What do you think?