the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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Much More Than

Summary: is just one part of the White House's online outreach. The White House continues to work to reach Americans where they get and discuss information, while at the same time meeting its obligations under the Presidential Records Act.

Two years ago, the White House launched official profiles on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.  Since then we’ve grown quite a bit, both in terms of the number of connections we’ve made through these sites, as well as other places on the web that now feature an official White House presence.

As I wrote then, technology continues to change how and where Americans get information and discuss important issues online. It’s also means that any organization, including the White House, must recognize that its website is only one part of an effective online platform.

Let’s take a look at the range of places you can now connect with the White House online:

Social Networks

Video & Multimedia

Document Sharing

  • Socrata: The White House shares data such as visitor logs.
  • SlideShare: The White House posts documents such as the slides from the Enhanced State of the Union 2011.

One of the unique factors of working at the White House is the Presidential Records Act of 1978. It’s a law that basically means any record created in the course of official White House business must be preserved.  You can learn more about the PRA in this post from September 2009, as well as’s privacy policy.

The White House has consulted with the nonpartisan experts of the National Archives and Records Administration to ensure we correctly archive presidential records created through the use of these websites and social media services.

For example, on Twitter, all tweets by White House accounts and any replies to official White House tweets are automatically archived through an RSS feed that is converted into email and preserved by the White House email archiving system.  On our Facebook page, staff at the White House Office of Records management archive every wall post authored by the White House as well as a sampling of comments on the posts.  These are saved in an organized folder structure using a standard file naming protocol.

These are just a couple of examples of the steps we take to comply with the PRA and preserve material for the future.  We do not start using a new social network site until we have thought through how the PRA would apply to it and how we will archive any presidential records.  (Figuring all of this out was one of the reasons we waited until May of 2009 to launch the White House pages on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.)

We are always looking for new opportunities to engage the public online, so if you know of any online communities or social media tools we should consider, please let us know.