Which Members of Congress Are On Twitter?

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Which members of Congress are on Twitter? A lot of them, it turns out. A new report (PDF) by the Congressional Research Service examines the use of Twitter by representatives and senators during August and September of 2009:

The data show that 205 Representatives and Senators are registered with Twitter (as of September 30, 2009) and issued a total of 7,078 “tweets” during the data collection period of August and September 2009. With approximately 38% of House Members and 39% of Senators registered with Twitter, Members sent an average of 116 tweets per day collectively.

Unsurprisingly, member use of Twitter mirrors that of regular people: many registered members don’t tweet at all, while a few members are responsible for a big chunk of the tweets. Half of the members of Congress on Twitter sent 20 or fewer tweets during August and September. But “16 Members sent more than 100 tweets,” according to the report. Members of the House tweet far more often than Senators, and House Republicans are far more active tweeters than House Democrats. (Senate Republicans tweet slightly more frequently than Senate Democrats.)

The most interesting part of the CRS report focuses on the content of members’ tweets. The authors of the study classified all the tweets they looked at into eight categories: position taking, policy statements, media or public relations, district or state, official or congressional action, personal, campaign, and other. Bottom line?

At this time, Twitter largely facilitates a one-way transmission of information from Members to the public. Members use Twitter to convey information about their official actions, press appearances, or policy positions. Given the limited data available thus far, a two-way exchange of information or policy dialogue appears less frequent.

That’s also unsurprising, but it’s too bad. It would be good for everyone if more Americans thought their representatives were hearing their concerns. Anyway, one more item. While the median representative had 1,297 followers, and the median senator had 3,536, one senator is the undisputed king of congressional twitterers: Sen. John McCain. He has over 1.7 million.

(h/t: Steven Aftergood)

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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