Yesterday, Twitter held the first ever online Town Hall meeting for President Barack Obama. The social media giant gave users a chance to submit questions to ask the president via the hashtag #AskObama. Twitter was flooded with nearly 40,000 questions from citizens hoping to have their question picked from the lottery and answered by Mr. Obama himself! Exciting, right?
Well, come to find out, only 0.045% of those questions actually made their way into the Presidential discussion forum. How, you ask? The way the town hall meeting worked is Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder, was allotted 18 questions to ask President Obama, which did NOT include those suggested by Twitter users. The only questions presented to the President that came from those tens of thousands of #AskObama hashtags were “a few” following the initial 18.
Obviously President Obama is a very busy man and could never answer all of the tweets posted. He is the leader of the free world after all! However, was is fair for the Twitter Town Hall meeting to be advertised in such a way that made everyday people feel they had a chance to have their questions answered directly, as opposed to through pundits?
Prior to the meeting, Drew Cline, one of 8 people chosen to sift through the #AskObama tweets commented on the democratic nature of the forum stating that “there actually is a chance for an average person who happens to have a Twitter account who is able to ask a good question to have that question forwarded up the food chain — up the ranks — and asked to the president.”
However, the chances of that happening turned out to be slim. After hearing the numbers I wonder, what was the point of asking Twitter users to post questions for President Obama if the chance of a particular question being asked was similar to the odds of winning a mega million dollar lottery? Many people in the blogosphere are asking the same question today, some of whom believe the public’s questions were not actually answered.
To look on the bright side, the Twitter Town Hall did promote political involvement among young people. So, did you partake in the festivities? Do you feel it was handled fairly and reasonably?