Social media not so
hot on the Hill
By Erika Lovley
The constant influx of feedback on social media is challenging for some
congressional offices. | AP Photos
Rep. John Culberson has had it with all the noise on Twitter.
“There’s a lot of trolls on Twitter,” the Texas Republican told
POLITICO. “I just got to the point that I was sick and tired of it.”
And he’s not the only one on Capitol Hill who’s fed up with the din.
In 140 characters: “Social media is absolutely a pain in the a—,” a
Capitol Hill aide confessed to POLITICO recently. “But that’s the
nature of our business.”
While the explosion of social media on the Hill has become an excellent
way for lawmakers to get their message to constituents, digesting the
messages coming in has become a tedious, time-consuming effort that
yields little payoff, staffers say. Despite the complaints simmering
among the faces behind congressional Facebook pages and Twitter
accounts, social media maintenance is a task that’s here to stay, at
least for the foreseeable future.
Culberson, for his part, didn’t quit Twitter entirely, but he pared
back the time he spends tweeting and has shifted more effort to
Facebook. Maintaining multiple social platforms is common in
One staffer says she spends an average of an hour and 30 minutes of her
day trolling her member of Congress’s social sites, deleting
obscenities, moderating inner-commenter squabbles and posting responses
to random questions pointing her to hyperlinks throughout the great
Others say they spend similar amounts of time wading through hundreds
of e-mails forwarded through Facebook, most of which lack key
identification, making the communication of little use to the office.
“It is a constant and never-ending battle,” said one House Democratic
As lawmakers have been tweeting, Facebooking and YouTubing their way
through constituent relations, trying to open as many lines of
communication as possible, they haven’t entirely figured out how to
handle the messages that come back in.
“It used to be that constituent mail came in a bag once a day,” said
Congressional Management Foundation spokesman Tim Hysom. “Now it comes
multiple times a day in the form of e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. It’s
a lot of moving parts that makes responding a real challenge.”
The biggest problem with social media, aides say, is that it’s nearly
impossible to identify anyone.
Read the complete story at Politico