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Now that he's elected, Barack Obama's online social networking vanishes

At some point in your virtual travels around online comment boards, you may have seen someone utter the phrase, "You win the Internet."

Often a sarcastic quip, it's used as a commendation for doing something particularly well on the Web -- whether it be an amusing remark, a well-made website or an outstanding contribution.

Without derision, I would like to congratulate the president-elect: You, sir, won the Internet.

Of course, I'm not the first to notice such an achievement. Throughout his campaign, Barack Obama's crowd was lauded for its extraordinary (for a politician) use of well-designed websites and participation in social media dens, like MySpace, Facebook and Digg, to leverage an increasingly tech-savvy populace of voters.

Barack Obama Blackberry

Blogs discussed "Obama's social media advantage" -- not a huge shocker considering his opponent, Sen. John McCain, with his tortured fingers, was a self-confessed computer illiterate.

The Times Technology Blog published a post titled "Obama, the first social media president." Marketing professionals took notice, creating websites like TechPresident and Barack 2.0, to track Obama's use of social media.

Barring maybe long-shot Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul, Obama's campaign put together the most plugged-in presidential run of any candidate in history. He Twittered his heart out; he was LinkedIn; it was Eventful.

And then election day rolled around, and the flame began to Flickr.

Now, the profiles have gone dark. The houses are....

still there, but nobody seems to be home. Hello?

Obama's 137,573 followers on Twitter haven't heard a peep since his "thanks" the day after the election. (BTW, you can get Ticket tweets by registering here.)

His 1 million MySpace friends haven't gotten a blog update since Nov. 5 (though, according to his page, he last logged in to his profile today).

Obama's 3 million Facebook supporters continue to write on his Wall, without reciprocation. None.

He hasn't been on Digg since he was elected, despite the luxury that one out of every four links he submits to the site lands on the homepage (each front page story nets tens of thousands of hits).

The press wrote about how Obama "got" technology, how he engaged young people. Were they really engaged, or were they being merely marketed?

"Obama has authored the most successful Internet marketing campaign ever," Brent Leary writes on a Barack 2.0 blog post. "He and his campaign have gone from the longest of longshots, to the presidency in less than two years. And his campaign's embrace of technology has played a key role in spreading his message."

To be fair, Obama hasn't disappeared entirely. His blog at BarackObama.com is still updated regularly. He's posting videos on YouTube just about every week, which helps him build his first impressions, as The Ticket noted here earlier today.

Obama's still around. But he's narrowed his number of hangouts.

There's no telling whether this is just a lull. Maybe he'll kick it back into overdrive once he's in office. (After all, he's hoping to be the first president with a computer in the Oval Office.)

We might see him submitting White House press releases to Digg, Twittering about his daily luncheons and uploading photos of the new dog to Flickr.

But for now, it's all quiet on the social front.

-- Mark Milian

Speaking of plugged-in, get automatic alerts of each Ticket item as Obama constructs his new administration by registering here.

Photo credit: Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (13)

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No real shocker here. At the end of the day, Barack Obama is just another politician. Obama is just another politician trying to get any advantage over his rivals. Once elected, Obama goes back to being just another politician.

I think it's okay to give the Obama campaign workers a break and let them rest until after Thanksgiving. That was a long campaign.

I don't think the Secret Services would like the President-Elect or any of his staff to tell the world where he is minute by minute. The security concerns for the president are very different from those of a candidate.

And oh yeah, he won the election, now its time to govern not play with kids websites.

Anyone who actually thinks Obama is logging into Facebook or MySpace to respond to bloggers should have their head examined. The reason the activity hasn't been moving is probably because the volunteers assigned to those sites are now back to their regular jobs.

Give the guy a break. He's only got two months to get ready to take office amidst the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, facing multi-trillion dollar deficits while the U.S. is still mired in two wars. I don't think facebook should be his top priority right now.

I still get messages from President Elect Obama's web site; As far as messages from the man himself, he seems to have his hands full at the moment. We finally have a President who will work, not run off to Texas or Camp David every chance he gets. I'm so relieved Bush is about to be gone.....

Is this any surprise? He is the president elect, and should now be focusing on learning his job and choosing his cabinet and other formidable tasks, which he has been doing. There are also more limitations on what a President can do. There is nothing that is "private." Thank God for that! He shouldn't waste too much time on the internet like all of us.

To say he has disengaged himself is also not true. He's now utilizing YouTube to do weekly messages.

This article sounds incredibly whiny. What more does the media want? This writer just wants to stir the pot and get an audience and of course, make a paycheck

The whole campaign was a product of Axelrod's "astroturfing" scheme that mimics grassroots organization for his clients.

+1 Internets for this post.

To be fair, it's easier to see how social networking can be applied in the context of a campaign (raising funds, recruiting volunteers, transmitting poll numbers) than as a government body. As many stories have pointed out, those friends on Facebook haven't gone away--it's just that the Obama administration is trying to figure out how to use that network to its advantage. In a sense, we're entering a new age--how *does* government interact with the public through social networking sites? Anyone have guesses? We'll probably see some interesting experiments during the Obama administration's duration.

Whether they'll really be worth hyperventilating over this new technology remains to be seen. Fingers-crossed, though.

Barrack who? Ron Paul is still way more relevant, and more of a internet presence than ever.

Several political columnists in various online newspapers also stopped providing a blog space suddenly. Thwup! All's quiet for now.

I agree that he has more important things to deal with now and that he can't be as transparent. His using YouTube to keep us abreast of what's going on is much appreciated. And I need to get back to work too.

And i also think that Obama is another politician trying to get any advantage over his rivals. Once elected, Obama goes back to being just another politician.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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