#Walshgate – Thoughts on Twitter (with Poll)


BMG’s own John E Walsh, fka John From Abington. is at the center of #walshgate.  It appears that he sent a tweet to his 500+ followers that was supposed to be a DM.  For those new to Twitter (like me), a DM is a Direct Message.  The message, intended for an unknown individual, said:

Some are talking about you running vs Scott Brown in ’12. I’m Chair of MA Dem Party. My email is johnewalsh@xxxx cell-617-xxx-xxxx.

Now there is a hashtag #walshgate for people guessing the identity of the intended recipient.

Sample tweets about walshgate…

Loving watching this #walshgate drama unfold, if only because accidentally tweeting what is meant to be a DM is a great fear of mine.

#walshgate feels a bit like guessing who was the man behind, You’re So Vain. @JohnEWalshDem should auction it to highest bidder.

#walshgate is like clicking “reply to all” in Outlook. But to the whole internet. Cue overwhelming paranoia whenever DMing from now on.

Why is everyone talking about Maddow? The #Walshgate message was meant for me. I got a DM from him shortly after the public one went out.

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking about learning more about Twitter and how it could be useful for moving the Democratic political agenda forward.  I had been thinking about posting on BMG asking readers whether or not they found Twitter to be useful.   Before I posted I wisely looked to see if any similar thread had been posted on BMG recently.  I found Ryan’s thread on Twitter.  I did not see anything in the thread that convinced me that Twitter is worth my time.  But I think I will give it a try.  

I became a fan of facebook and see why it is useful.  I know that people use facebook for a variety of reason.  I made an intentional decision at some point to use facebook for three reasons:

- request for an action, like attending an event, getting people to volunteer, etc.

- influence thought, provide information

- ask a question

I intentionally avoid facebook status updates that say things like “I’m looking out the window.”

I’m a big fan of facebook used judiciously.  While I wouldn’t spam my e-mail list with a request for a suggestion for a good restaurant in the North End, it is appropriate for the facebook culture.

When I first started using facebook I posted a diary and poll on BMG asking for thoughts on the best “Return On Investment” for internet organizing.  While facebook got no votes, interestingly a significant number of the people who responded mentioned that they had seen my post on facebook.

I’m now asking the BMG community, have you ever been moved to action or had your opinion changes by a tweet from twitter?

Can twitter be used effectively in political organizing?

BTW you are welcome to follow me @KateDonaghue

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25 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Why not FB message, text, or email?

    DM on twitter?  Bleh.  

  2. Run, Kate, Run!

    You'd make mincemeat out of the "Tea Party Senator."

    • LOL

      Bob, thank you!

      Shortly after Ted Kennedy died, I recieved a phone call.  

      The person asked, "Have you made a decision on the U. S. Senate race?"  

      My response, "Yes, I've made a decision.  I'm not running."

      A clue on Walshgate.  John would not be saying to me, "I'm Chair of MA Dem Party."  I have not yet ruled out a run in 2012, but I'm quite sure that I was not John's intended recipient of his IM.  

      • I know JW's e-mail and cell phone

        I know JW's e-mail and cell phone number.

        While I have not ruled out a run for U. S. Senate in 2012, I'm quite sure that I was not the intended recipient of John's tweet.  

      • who wouldn't know?

        Who that's a legit candidate for Senate wouldn't know who the Chair of the state party is?

        My vote: it's all a hoax.

      • Just to clarify the Above Post

        The person calling me was really asking "Have you made a decision on who you will be supporting for U. S. Senate?"  

        My caller's meaning was clear to both of us and I was making a joke.  

        I am impressed that a couple of people actually retweeted my post indicating that I have not ruled out a run for U. S. Senate.  


  3. I can't see the point of Twitter.

    I got dragged practically kicking and screaming into Facebook.  I really don't need to know what people have for breakfast or their opinion on the weather.  I'm also partial to complete sentences and correctly spelled words so the whole 140-character thing wouldn't work well for me.

  4. Twitter is kind of like drinking from the firehose

    A few months ago I started Tweeting as @WatertownDem (feel free to follow) to see if it was worth it and I'm still not sure if I'm "doing it right" but here are some observations I've made:

    The biggest advantage of Twitter over Facebook is that you can follow anyone and anyone can follow you.  In addition -- these are one-way links, so to speak.  You don't have to follow any of your followers which allows you to avoid the spammers, the 'what I ate for breakfast' types et al.  

    Not only can you follow anyone (unless they've locked their tweets, but I've found most people don't) but you can also respond to anyone, even people you're not following.  If someone tweets a question you can answer it.  I've directed people to the DPW, answered public transportation questions, and other things I've found while searching for "Watertown".

    I've found a lot of people in town I otherwise wouldn't ever have known about through Twitter.  Those that choose to follow me now get information about Democratic events in town.  That's a net gain for the DTC as far as I'm concerned, even if these folks never show up to a meeting.

    There are a lot of different ways to use Twitter, and while I'm no Twitter evangelist, I will say that people who dismiss it have really only dismissed a particular way of using it.  Some people use it like an RSS feed -- directing people to larger blog items they've written.  Some people use it like social bookmarks -- directing people to interesting things they found on the net.  Some use it to publicize events and causes of interest to Democratic activists.

    And of course, many use it to spam, phish or just post the first thing on their mind without any sort of filter.  The best thing about Twitter is that you don't have to follow these people.

    • Very Helpful!

      Now that is exactly the kind of information I was looking for!

      Thanks much!

    • I tweet events

      for the most part, I tweet about events coming up -- elections, neighborhood cleanups, Town-related-parties, that sort of thing, almost always related to political events or charity events.

      I have no idea if anyone reads my tweets, or if they act on them.  That may be why I don't tweet very often.

  5. I set up an account, but have never actually sent out a tweet - a lot of bored, heartbroken people still follow PeterPorcupine, from the notification emails I get...

  6. This reminds me of Rick Perlstein's observation

    about how when Nixon toady William Safire got a column at the NYTimes, Safire attached "-gate" to every little minor hiccup that came along, thereby lessening the appearance of the crime of Watergate.

    It is not a scandal to find out that the Chair of Mass Dems is looking for a candidate to beat a Republican Senator.

    It is normal.

  7. may as well

    You can tie your twitter to facebook, so you can just post on one to post on the other.

    Twitter's most useful aspect is as a direct-democracy style newsfeed. Any big event going on gets on twitter's trends, even if it's not something the media covers. Now, that isn't always a good thing... people can be vain or pointless sometimes, but it often is at least illuminating. And quick. The protests in Iran really show, to me, how Twitter can be a powerful tool... I'm just not so sure it's going to be such a powerful tool for campaign-style organizing, at least from a top-down approach.

    Additionally, I sometimes twitter instead of live blogging (something I've never found particularly well suited to blogs).  

  8. $quot;I've gone to a web site because of a tweet$quot; moving up in the polls

    It's second only to the 14 votes of people who think Twitter is a "Waste of Time."  

  9. Herald Picked it Up

    The Herald is covering the story.

    As I mentioned when I started this thread, I was new to Twitter.  Like a number of people I had set up an account but I was not quite sure what to do with it.

    Reading the posts here, and following #walshgate has given me a better idea of what Twitter can and cannot do.

    I now know longer see it as a total waste of time, although it appears that more than half the poll respondents think that way.  

    I've never been afraid to learn.

    Thanks for the help.  And thanks to all the people who are now following me.  I won't "over tweet", I promise.  BTW, is there an "in" word for people who tweet way too much?

    • I dunno...

      A pain the in a$$? Diarrhea of the keyboard? LOL

      Also, I want to know if there's a word for people who over-proselytize about the Greatness of Twitter. THOSE people drive me bananas. It's like hanging around in high school with the "cool clique" over there mocking you for not being in the "cool clique."

      It's like, dude, live and let live already. Let me spend my time and energy as I see fit, and you do the same for yourself. (Lately I barely have a spare minute to post on my blog...I do not need another timesink from hell thanks.)

    • LMAO

      As for those who believe his posting was nothing more than a quick-fingered trick, Walsh said, "Anybody who wants to speculate that I'm smart, I'd be very foolish to try to dissuade them."

      That is so John!! That made me giggle. And, what foolishness, "oh, it was just a ploy to shine attention" or whatever. Give me a break. Of course, there's no end to what people speculate about the truth with ZERO evidence...

  10. For what it's worth...

    I wouldn't be on BMG if it weren't for Twitter. I started Tweeting during the primary and was amazed by the group of Mass Dems on Twitter. So far I have learned about candidates running for office this November, learned about the caucus process that I was never aware of, and in turn learned that every town has a Dem. Committee. I'm going to my my first town committee meeting this evening. Without Twitter, I'd probably still be reading the HuffingtonPost saying "I'd like to become involved... at some point".

    Now I am getting involved. I would never have known that I could have made calls from home for Capuano and later Coakley without Twitter. I would never have been motivated to get involved without the community of Mass Dems on Twitter. Heck, John Walsh was telling me to get rid of Progressive for my car insurance yesterday, on Twitter. Not quite #walshgate,but where else is there such informal, open conversation? When it comes closer the primaries, things will get more exciting. I look forward to working beyond my home phone and Twitter this fall, but I would never have been comfortable to do that without my experience on Twitter.

    I give Twitter two thumbs up!

    chrismatth   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • That's the kind of information I was looking for!

      Great story!  Welcome to the Massachusetts Democratic Community.  

      Thanks for signing up for the Dispatch and following me.  I'll send you last week's Dispatch.  

      Did you go to your caucus?  Are you going to he a delegate?  If not, are you familiar with the add-on process?  


      • Thanks!

        Thanks for the welcome. I'm happy to be here.

        I became aware of the caucus system a few days before the Scituate caucus. I was planning to run for delegate and apply as a youth add-on if necessary. Unfortunately, I had some car trouble and was unable to make the caucus in time.

        I'm looking forward to the meeting this evening, and intend to apply as a youth add-on. I'm not too familiar with how that process works, but I hope to learn some tonight.

        chrismatth   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM

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