Obama’s Middle East Speech to Get Twitter Follow-Up Chat

    May 18, 2011
    Josh Wolford

Tomorrow at 11:40 am Eastern Time, President Obama will give a speech about United States policy in the Middle East and North Africa. The White House is looking to connect via social media to the public by announcing a live follow-up chat on Twitter.

The speech will stream live at whitehouse.gove\live, and after it’s completed Twitter users will be given a chance to participate and even shape the discussion that follows.

Here’s the form the discussion will take:

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes will be interviewed by Andy Carvin from NPR and Marc Lynch from Foreign Policy. Instead of formulating all the question themselves, they are inviting the Twitterverse to help craft the queries. From the NPR News blog:

If you’re on Twitter and want to submit a question, please post a tweet with your question and include the hashtag #MEspeech in the tweet. You can pose your question before or during the speech. We won’t be able to get to every question, of course, so we encourage everyone to follow the #MEspeech hashtag and join the broader conversation about the speech on Twitter.

Please join me (@acarvin) and Marc Lynch (@abuaardvark) Thursday for a tweet chat during Obama’s #MEspeech: http://n.pr/kVl9nC Pls RT 1 hour ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

Apparently, the White House themselves played a role in getting this live Twitter-chat off the ground:

The White House contacted Marc and me several days ago, asking if we would be interested in conducting a Twitter chat related to the speech. We agreed on the condition that the two of us would run the chat and any subsequent interviews ourselves, including choosing the questions and topics to be addressed in it.

The hashtag #MEspeech is already generating some tough questions on Twitter, as you can see:

.@acarvin Who will be there next to WH official Ben Rhodes to provide opposition? No one. So this is a propaganda event. #MESpeech 1 hour ago via Twitter for Mac · powered by @socialditto

.@avinunu the only terms were that the WH would have no say about what we ask. And I hope we get lots of questions from people across MENA. 1 hour ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

@abuaardvark In context of US democ. principles & human rights principles explain US (selective) support of repressive regimes #MEspeech 16 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

. @abuaardvark @acarvin Does Obama Admin see recent events in #MENA as opp to change US policy: will we walk our talk finally? #MEspeech 42 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

It looks like the White House is truly trying to involve the world of social media in the debate. Policy debate via Twitter is just the beginning of the enormous role Social media is going to play in the upcoming 2012 elections. The White House is already integrating, and Republican contenders are going to have to do the same.