Congress and the Internet: I Guess It’s Not Just a Series of Tubes

The debate about the use of social media on Capitol Hill continues to rage, and in a fashion befitting a Washington, politically-fueled debate in an election year. I thought that it had reached its peak when Ted Stevens called the Internet “a series of tubes,” but I was wrong.

The New York Times chimed in yesterday with a piece “In House, Tweets Fly Over Web Plan.” This cannot be good. And it’s not, boys and girls. Here are some select quotes:

“I just learned the Dems are trying to censor Congressmen’s ability to use Twitter Qik YouTube Utterz etc — outrageous and I will fight them,” Representative John Culberson, Republican of Texas, wrote last Tuesday on his personal page on the online text-messaging site Twitter, where he posts a daily, rapid-fire log of his thoughts. Messages on Twitter are called tweets.”

“Before I could post a Tweet I would have to get approval of the twits that run the House!” And an hour later: “The Dems will do this unless the Internet community stops them.”

Uh oh.

“Leadership has told me personally that they will next focus on limiting our access to text, blogs, and other social media outlets on the Internet,” Mr. Culberson said in an interview.

Oh geez.

On Thursday, all the e-chatter drew a stern response from the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, who, in a letter to Mr. Boehner, rebuffed what she called “inaccurate rumors” that the Democrats were trying to muzzle members of Congress.

Noting her own technological bona fides (“I have a blog, use YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Digg, and other new media to communicate with constituents”), Ms. Pelosi said that the Democrats’ proposal would relax rules that prohibit members from posting on sites other than the domain.

The article is an interesting read, but let’s not forget that this is the legislative body that regulates our use of the Internet, among other issues, things like the so-called “Net Neutrality.” The fact that Nancy Pelosi and John Culberson are competing about the social media street creds frightens the hell out of me.



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