WASHINGTON — The website Politwoops launched this week as a way to catch politicians with their pants down, by cataloging and posting deleted Twitter tweets of congressmen, the president and presidential hopefuls.
But instead of being embarrassed by the site, politicians within a day had devised a way to gleefully moon the system.
By Thursday morning, Rep. David Schweikert, R-Scottsdale, posted — then quickly deleted — “#politwoops saves lost tweets, now if we can just get President Obama to save lost jobs…” and “Wish #politwoops would hold Obama and Holder accountable for their missing facts on #FastandFurious just as it does missing tweets.”
“He’s found a way to draw more attention not just to social media but to Obama’s failed economic policies,” said Rachel Semmel, a Schweikert spokeswoman.
“He wants people to see Obama’s failure to create more jobs. He wants to draw attention to that.”
At least one other elected official is also “posting” deletions aimed at Politwoops. Rep. Danny Rehberg, R-Mont., had intentionally deleted tweets Thursday, such as, “Scary thought: Many of the same pols that messed up 140 characters on #politwoops also wrote and voted for the 2,300-page Obamacare law.”
The group behind the site, the Sunlight Foundation, didn’t intend for the site to be used that way, but said it’s cool if it adds to the public discourse.
“It creates a re-use and it’s not something we expected,” said Gabriela Schneider, the foundation’s communications director. “But Politwoops gives you a bigger, more accurate context to what they’re saying elsewhere.”
As of last Friday morning, Politwoops had archived more than 3,000 status updates that politicians had deleted from Twitter, noting when they were deleted and how long the up-to-140-character messages were online.
Some of the deleted tweets appear to involve typos, missing or broken links and other mistakes, including the “Vw” and “T” pocket-tweets deleted by Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Phoenix. Some appear to be from politicians whose accounts were hacked and who deleted the “drop 20 pounds of fat in one week” tweets that went out under their names.
Others changed the wording but kept the message.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., deleted “Dear Vlad, Surprise! Surprise! You won. The people of #Russia are crying too,” in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s election. But it was merely replaced by “Dear Vlad, Surprise! Surprise! You won. The #Russian people are crying too.”
The Sunlight Foundation touted that transparency, along with the ability to see a side of public officials not often seen, Schneider said.
“It’s being able to hold our government officials accountable on this new medium,” she said. “But it’s not just about an ‘aha! gotcha!’ moment. It’s to reveal a little more of an intimate side of them, to see how they engage with their constituents.”
It’s also a reminder that what happens on Twitter won’t go away. Schweikert’s office embraces that permanence.
“Anyone who uses Twitter knows it’s open to all the public. That’s not going to scare David off. David knows as soon as he tweets it’s in the public sphere,” Semmel said. “If someone sees a misspelling, then so be it.”
Revealing a congressman’s mistakes may actually improve his image, said a spokeswoman for Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Flagstaff.
“Constituents understand that their congressmen are human and will make mistakes,” Apryl Marie Fogel said. “It adds something to the fact that politicians are not perfect, and we really use social media so that they can be humanized.”
Fogel said the chance to connect directly with the public outweighs misspellings or typos that may show up on Politwoops. She calls social media “one of the most effective ways to get communication out.”
“The media tends to be a little biased, so they don’t really highlight some of the successful things (Gosar) does,” she said. “So this way, people get to see his perspective.”
Schweikert has also used social media to highlight his personal life, using the hashtag #CharlietakesDC to showcase his dog’s adventures around the nation’s capital.
- Affordable small home makeovers for Mother's Day
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life