What's the White House Policy on Neutralizing Damaging Tweets?

By Aliya Sternstein

April 24, 2013

The Obama administration's social media outreach apparently does not extend to countering market-moving falsified tweets about the White House. 

Midday on Tuesday, a hacked Associated Press Twitter account informed the public that blasts at the White House had harmed the president. The Dow tumbled for a bit in response. The Homeland Security Department noticed the bogus tweet -- or should have -- given that DHS admittedly monitors Twitter and other public social media to identify threatening situations.

Yet there was radio silence from the administration online. Sure, a few minutes of economic insecurity isn’t worth issuing a terrorist alert tweet. But federal agencies are supposed to be scored on social media responsiveness, according to new public engagement guidelines.

There were no assurances Obama was safe on the various White House Twitter accounts or on WhiteHouse.gov as of Tuesday night.

When other news media Twitter feeds advised disregarding “AP Tweets about disturbance at WH,” the White House tweeted a photo from yesterday's White House science fair. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's Twitter account @PressSec, as of 6:30 p.m., had not been updated since the day before. 

Instead, Carney took to traditional media, telling reporters at a briefing: "The president is fine. I was just with him."

It is unclear what, if any, social media policy covers actively refuting messages that could have a national security or economic impact.

White House and Homeland Security officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Hacktivists supporting shunned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed responsibility for the fake tweet, which read: "Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."

In recent days, the same group, self-proclaimed Syrian Electronic Army, also allegedly breached Twitter accounts belonging to NPR and CBS.

(Image via Orhan Cam /Shutterstock.com)


By Aliya Sternstein

April 24, 2013

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