By DeAnne Cuellar, Executive Director of Media Justice League

Ugh. How long has it been since I posted anything? The church of blogging makes me feel guilty sometimes. Last week I intended to blog about Obama’s Twitter town hall meeting. Then my attention shifted to the launch of Google+. After losing interest I moved over to a somewhat enthralling conversation with District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal over Facebook privacy settings.

President Obama did make history as the first President to use a social media network as a public forum. Thousands tweeted to the #AskObama hashtag on everthing from the economy to the Texas execution of Humberto Leal Garcia. According to @townhall stats there were 169,395 #AskObama Tweets. Hot topics included jobs (23%), budget (18%), taxes (18%), and education (11%). Exciting stuff, right?

The event was promoted as a mechanism for constituents to directly communicate with their national leader, but Twitter algorithms were used to select only a specific set of questions for the President to answer. Three out the eighteen questions came from a nationally recognized mainstream columnist, and another from House Speaker John Boehner. Not as inclusive as we might have wanted the event to actually turn out.

There were not many questions from Texas, but here are a few:

texasbryanp: #AskObama if he is looking forward to being unemployed in January 2013. #Texas certainly is looking forward to that. #tcot

texasbryanp: #AskObama to stop attacking #Texas jobs? He won’t listen. (expand) #tcot #tlot @PJTatler

rairojasii: Who Speaks for Adra Sauceda? 16 yrs old when raped, bitten, butchered #mexico #texas #askobama #rickperry

In the end, was Barack Obama’s Twitter town hall ineffective? And, what the heck does any of this have to do with Google+ or Councilman Diego Bernal?

The Presidents Twitter event, and which questions were chosen to be answered, was a snapshot of the current digital disparities in our own city. While employing social media to promote civic engagement is an exciting new development many San Antonians without access to the Internet still are not privy to such events.

There are over 330 million residents in the United States. If each tweet from the town hall had represented one person, then 169,395 tweets would equal only .05% of the population. Not such a great turnout after all.


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