tv U.S. Capitol Historical Society on Social Media Congress and Democracy CSPAN August 13, 2018 6:14pm-7:18pm EDT
right rights". tuesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, is faith compatible with reason? wednesday at 8:00 p.m., the book "what truth sounds like" rfk james baldwin and our unfinished conversation about race in america. thursday at 8:00 p.m., microsoft president brad smith with the future computed, artificial intelligence and its role in society. and on friday, at 8:00 p.m., all points books talks about publishing authors from both the political right and left. watch book tv this week in prime-time on c-span 2. >> next a forum on the impact of social media on congress and relations between members and their constituents. speakers talk about their ongoing research and their new theory of interactive representation in which an
increasing number of congressional members are engaging on-line with their constituents. the u.s. capital historical society hosted this event. >> might as well get settled this morning. thanks for joining us today, the u.s. capitol historical society's august lunchtime series. if it sounds like this is scripted, it is. i'm following marching orders because i forget stuff including the first thing, i will tell you my name. i'm chief historian at the u.s. capital historical society. today's lecture is part of an ongoing series. there were flyers available out on the front desk for all five or maybe even six lectures, of which this is the second. next week i'm inviting you back but not to the library of
congress which has been a wonderful host last week and today but to our offices at the building at 200 maryland avenue northeast. the talk next week is the chair of the american law and governance here at the library of congress. he's going to be speaking on political parties, how they respond to losses, particularly the democrat party of 2016. do please pick up a copy of all the lectures coming up. this week we're going to be hearing from dual speakers, joint speakers. the first speaker -- actually i don't know the order they are going in. but the order that i met them in is colleen who attended bc and yale university before becoming senate staffer and deputy director of the crs, the congressional research service. she's currently deputy director
of the national and international outreach library of congress. and our fellow presenter is the specialist on congress with the crs, here at the library of congress, attended university of maryland, university of florida, taught here in maryland and specializes in lobbying, ethics, and congressional communications. they are going to be speaking about -- i was trying to figure out how to explain this in a sentence. i came up with interactivity which is a phrase they came up, the nexus of evolving of trends and the nature of representation and also technology, mostly social media. so join me in welcoming our speakers today. [applause] >> thanks, chuck.
we're really happy to be part of this series, from the united states capitol historical society today and really excited about these lectures about concerning congressional capacity. we're happy to welcome you to the library of congress. jacob and i both work here at the library, so it's great to be hosting this lecture here today. a little background, this research started in 2009, really, when a few people got together at the congressional research service and sat around and wondered, how are members of congress using social media? which was really basically the question that we asked ourselves. and fast forward, it's nine years later, and we've done a number of projects. there was number of crs reports published on this topic. there was a number of university-wide year-long projects done in conjunction with a number of public policy and public administration programs. and also a number of peer reviewed journal articles
published. but i think right now we're at the point where we want to be able to try to say something, to step back a little built and look at the -- step back a little bit and look at the big picture, how is social media potentially changing norms of representation in congress? i think that was really our key interest all along, and now we're able to try to say something about it. so we're here at the library of congress. this is our new mission statement here at the library of congress. we're very happy to be talking about the mission statement, which is engage, inspire and inform congress and the american people with a universal and enduring source of knowledge and creativity. we just hope we're able to live up to that today. but we also like this quote too from thomas jefferson. there is in fact no subject to which a member of congress may not have occasion to refer. so if someone asks us why are you studying that? well, we can always point to this particular quote. and of course in this picture is
thomas jefferson's library, which is the basis of the collections here at the library of congress and exists just one floor above us here in the historic thomas jefferson building. so now i'm going to turn it over to jacob who is going to give us an introduction to the substance of our talk here today. >> thank you, colleen. i want to echo what she said about welcoming you all to the library of congress. we're excited to be able to share our research with you through the capital historical society's summer lecture series. 1973, david mayhew members primary not only goal is reelection. first in order for members to be re-elected, they must connect with constituents and demonstrate policy or institutional successes. in order to gain power within the house or the senate or to win, on policy issues for their constituents, members have to
know what their constituents want. therefore, member constituent communications serves a vital role in representative government. if information about legislative activity cannot easily flow from members to constituents, citizens will be less capable of drawing policy judgments regarding congressional actions. likewise, if constituents cannot easily communicate with their preferences to members, congressional action is less likely to reflect the interest of the governed. constituent communication therefore is one of the basic building blocks of representative democracy. this cartoon on the screen imagines what it might look like if a social media network replaced those items we typically find on our desks. this includes some of the traditional ways in which members gather constituent information. but also new and more modern uses of that -- of those spaces. social media is changing this process. the desire for information is
still there, but members of congress have access to more data, from more places than ever before. that was particularly evident on march 20, 2017 when james comey who was then director of the fbi testified before the house intelligence committee about russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. in the course of the question-and-answer portion of the hearing, mr. comey was asked about a tweet donald trump had sent during the hearing. in response it was reported that mr. comey said i'm sorry i haven't been following anyone on twitter while i've been sitting here. we'll come back to that in a little bit. while it is not unusual that a government official would be asked to respond to a statement by the president, it was unusual that the president's tweet was sent during the hearing and that the congressman used it as part of a question in almost real-time. in many ways, the exchange between that representative and
mr. comey is unique and illustrates a fundamental shift to communications and representation. as representative justin amosh was quoted in an article, this isn't the 90s. there's an internet now. they used to be corral people much more easily. today we're in a different world. representative amosh's idea that the internet has changed the relationship between constituents and members of congress on the surface appears to be accurate. numerous media reports covering district town hall events have indicated that constituents are using social media to organize and voice their displeasure about a variety of issues. social media specifically twitter has erased some of the traditional blocks, most specifically cost and time for the flow of information between members and constituents. members can receive information directly from their followers and potentially utilize that information in real-time. similarly, social media provides constituents with a platform to engage directly with members and
other constituents or followers in a virtually cost-free manner. this was particularly true when the house democrats used periscope and facebook live to broadcast their june 2016 gun control sit-in on the house floor. at that time the house was out of session, so by house rule cameras in the chamber were turned off and c-span was not broadcasting the chamber floor. in an effort to show their sit-in to constituents and followe followers, some democratic members decided to show the sit-in on social media, a tactic that had not been available during previous sit-ins. even though broadcasting from the floor might have been a violation of house rules, the democratic members who chose to share the moment on periscope and facebook live seemingly decided that it was more important to show constituents and other followers exactly what was happening in real-time. in fact, the day after the sit-in, the speaker protem made
an announcement reminding members that they are not to record floor actions on their cell phones. he said as the chair announced previously, the speaker's policy with respect to the use of chamber -- use of the chamber will continue in the current congress. the chair would call particular attention to the aspects of this poll regarding the use of certain devices because outside coverage of the chamber is limited to floor proceedings and is allowed only by credited journalists when the chamber on display, no audio or video recording or transmitting devices is allowed. this ability to communicate in this way provided the participating members with an outlet hence to forth not available without credentialed media involvement, something that the chamber took quite seriously the following day. so as col len mentioned -- so as colleen mentioned, crs has been studying social media in congress for the last nine
years. not to past ourselves on the back, but we were some of the first to get there, especially for member adoption back in 2009. so since 2012, we've published six studies on social media using more than 71,000 observations. these studies have primarily focused on social media adoption, but also on usage. so i wanted to show you some of that research very briefly here this morning. -- or today. so as of 2016, 99% -- sorry, as of this summer, 99% of representatives and 100% of senators had twitter accounts. this is an increase from 97% of representatives and 93% of senators that's shown here on the slide. which is a further increase from 79% of all members who had a twitter account in 2012 and when we first started this, only 38% of members were signed up with twitter. so twitter and facebook are really important, but they are not the only social media
platfor platforms, as some of you i'm sure are aware. during the 2016, 2017 academic year, crs partnered with the lyndon johnson school of public affairs at the university of texas, to study social media adoption beyond facebook and twitter. so this slide shows some of the other platforms that members are adopting in addition to facebook, twitter and youtube for nearly ubiquitous. for senators you can see the most adopted platforms in 2016. for members of the house instagram, linkedin and flicker. that tells one part of the story of adoption. another thing we found to be interesting and potentially one of the most striking findings in our 2013 article, communicating, was that we realized ideology matters for the early adopter of twitter at least.
but not in the traditional that we normally think about in political science or in the popular press. instead, members with extremely conservative or extremely liberal ideology, were overall more likely to adopt twitter than other members of congress. so this is important because it's the potential is there to reach people who may not be reached through more traditional forms of media. as i briefly mentioned, social media adoption is very important. it is one of the things that i'm currently working on now, but it is not the only thing that our work has focused on at crs, in particular. some past studies have also examined what members are posting in broad categorization. so for example, as shown here on the slide, past analysis of member tweets and facebook posts were position taking posts, where members were taking a position publicly on a particular issue. this was followed by district or state official action, events
that are taking place in the district or the state and then policy statements in which the member is expressing a statement about a policy without taking a particular position on that matter. we've also looked at committee tweets and facebook posts and can see some of the same patterns that exist within the committees that exist for members. this study was done in the 113th congress, again, in partnership with the lbj school of public affairs at the university of texas. you can see that political stances make up the plurality, although by very very small margin of what member -- sorry, what committees are posting. so members and committees are using social media for all kinds of different purposes, but primarily to stake out positions. so now i'm going to turn this back over to colleen who is going to talk a little bit about our bridge to representation.
>> so briefly we're going to talk about existing models of representation, and then we're going to talk about our model of representation. we will start with the earliest concepts of representation which is the delegate versus the trustee models which came to us from edmond burke. delegates represent constituent interests and desires while trustees use independent judgment to promote the general welfare or the common good. that's the dichotomy which existed for many many years when thinking about theoretical models of representation. we have pictured here senator dimatto and senator moynihan who both represented new york in previous decades. and this is an odd couple. there's some odd couples in the state. this is definitely an odd couple, but not just for party differences that existed between the two. dimatto was the classic delegate
model and senator moynihan was the classic trustee model. dimatto made it really a priority to represent the interests of his constituents and moynihan had a strong reputation as a senator concerned with national issues, a self-style policy expert. it is worth noting in political science there's established data on this dichotomy demonstrating the constituents actually view their senators through these different lenses. we'll fast forward to 2003, an article was published in the american political science journal, known as apsr and she expanded upon these models of representation and said there wasn't just two models of representation anymore. there were actually four. so we'll review these very briefly. promissory representation means representatives make promises to
constituents during campaigns which they either keep or don't. other types of representation, a representative looks within to deeply held principles in order to make decisions. and then surrogate representation, which is sometimes also known as descriptive representation, is when legislators represent constituents often times outside of their own geographic district. this is sometimes based on things like gender, race, or sexual orientation but not exclusively so. sometimes surrogate representation can also be issue based. so that's a brief overview of the models of representation that we have thus far. and this is a graphic depiction of how we think about representation, based upon the four models of representation. this does not appear in her article. this is our interpretation of
her models of representation. so you can look, the elements of election, the governing period, and reelection play an important role as well as the concept of linear time. representatives might receive input from constituents along the way, but representatives are either trying to please voters at t one which is the time of election which is promissory representation or t 3 which is anticipatory representation. either way accountability occurs at t 3 which is the time of election. it's the moment of sanction for the voter. in as much as representatives would like to influence or inform voters, they rely upon institutions to mediate that message. such as interest groups, the media and political parties. it is worth mentioning the notion of surrogate representation, there's no possibility for accountability or sanctions since the representative does not necessarily represent those within his or her geographic
district or area. and we're going to revisit that a little bit later in the talk. that will become important. so now we're getting on to what we want to try to present today, which is our notion of interactive representation. we don't think by the way that this model should completely replace all these other models of representation. rather, we think this is an additional model that needs to be considered. we also acknowledge that interactive representation is in its very early stages of development. but we really feel that in the future, representation will eventually mimic more this depiction than the previous depictions of representation. when we picture interactive representation, this is how we think of it in our minds. this is a graphic of a nuclear chain reaction by the way. on the surface, you can see how this model is very different from this model. so now we're going to talk about an actual definition of interactive representation, not
just pictures. we define interactive representation as continuous communication and feedback between voters and representatives, absent geographic restraints, institutional arrangements or formal groups to mediate exchanges. there's a few words i would like to emphasize within that definition. continuous communication and feedback is meant to distinguish our model from previous models of representation. accountability and sanction do not only exist at t 3 or the time of election. we think that there's many instances and opportunities for feedback and potentially sanctions throughout a representative's life cycle. also, the communication is two way, hence the word interactive. representatives ask for feedback. constituents listen and provide it. and representatives take that information into account into the formal execution of their duties. but even more importantly, these types of exchanges can occur outside the bound -- boundaries
of geographic connections, institutional arrangements or formal groups. of course this is made possible by technology and the proliferation of social media. access is no longer a major barrier. constituents do not need to join a formal group or a political party to make their voices heard. what was previously thought of as unfathomable has now become possible and we argue in its very early stages of development. this is our depiction of what representational time -- what interactive representation looks like, so it is an amendment to that previous graphic that you saw earlier. what we're trying to show in this mod sl there's much more dialogue -- show in this model there's much more dialogue and back and forth exchanges happening in real-time between representatives and constituents. although reduced in influence there's still an element of linear time because every two years in the house of representatives for example as
we all know members need to stand for reelection, but this concept certainly alters the notion of promissory or anticipatory models of representation offered by mansbridge. in technical terms, social media diminishes the singular importance of a fixed sanction point. one important distinction is that an anticipatory representation, according to mansbridge, the representative seeks to educate or manipulate the preferences of voters during t 2. this could still occur interactive representation, but we argue most importantly the converse is also true. the representative is constantly being educated or informed of voter preferences once again in real-time in interactive representation. notice also in our depiction the constituents have the opportunity to interact with each other, at the same time they interact with representatives. this reflects the significant reduction institutional barriers
for collective action or formal communication with elected representatives. as constituents share information with each other, they undoubtedly alter the feedback they provide their representatives. we would also argue there are two other important effects, whereas there was no accountability previously for surrogate representation since constituents had no opportunity -- or electoral power over representatives at t 3 outside of a geographic district. social media does provide such opportunity for accountability in surrogate representation. secondly, it's possible that interactive representation may over time squeeze out the other representation. this very inward view of representation, in which a representative bases his or her decisions on their principles is kind of possibly going the way of dinosaur. voters might still elect representatives based on their principles, but it is thought that over time they will be very
satisfied with letting them apply their principles without interaction during this t 2 time period. so i'd like to pass this back over to jacob who is going to give us some examples of interactive representation. >> did i flip to the right page? okay, so this section goes through four different examples that we think are good examples of what the potential is for social media in terms of interaction. this picture here, which is from our library's collection, shows the congressman in his office meeting with a constituent, something that certainly happens today, but social media is potentially changing that interaction as well. so the first thing i want to start with is returning to our example from earlier, when one of the president's tweets was
used to question then director comey in a march 2017 hearing. let me play the video for you. >> thanks to the modern technology that's in front of me right here, i've got a tweet from the president an hour ago saying the nsa and fbi tell congress that russia did not influence the electoral process. that's not quite accurate, that tweet. >> i'm sorry. i haven't been following anybody on twitter while i've been sitting here. >> i can read it to you. it says the nsa and fbi tell congress that russia did not influence electoral -- the electoral process. this tweet has gone out to millions of americans, 16.1 million to be exact. is the tweet as i read it to you the nsa and fbi tell congress that russia did not influence the electoral process, is that accurate? >> well, it's hard for me to react. let me tell you what we understand the state of what we've said is. we've offered no opinion, have
no view, have no information on potential impact because it's never something that we looked at >> okay. so it's not too far of a logical leap to conclude that the assertion that you have told the congress that there was no influence on the electoral process is not quite right? >> right. it certainly wasn't our intention to say that today because we don't have any information on that subject. and that's not something that was looked at. >> okay. so putting aside the policy question that's in this video, which is not why we're here today to discuss, as the video showed, he was able to incorporate real-time information into his questioning and made the witness uncomfortable. while members have long received advice from aides during hearings, this might be one of the first times where social media played a direct and credited role with a hearing question. in this case, it was a tweet from the president. but you can imagine a scenario
where a tweet from a constituent or a tweet from a follower was used to ask a question in real-time, whether handed to the member by an aide or the member seeing that information directly in front of him or herself while they are participating in the hearing or in a mark-up session. our second example -- sorry -- our second example comes from mr. swawell who in march 2015 asked for -- he said i mentioned that we're going to be having a conversation not just hear on the house floor, but we have been talking to young americans and people with student debt across america. you can tweet on your phone, and then he provides some hashtags. so during that speech, he received numerous responses, which he then incorporated into his remarks. and you can see the second paragraph here, and a tweet that generated his statement for the
congressional record. i just want to read one of the first tweets that came in on this. this came from a constituent. she is from my hometown in dublin, california. it is a place where -- and he goes on to talk about the district a little bit. she's in college now and said that she pays $300 each month to reduce her interest payments. and without such payments, she could save to buy a house. this is very powerful. this member goes to the floor for a special order speech, with a topic in mind, but without the real world examples that he might have gone to in a previous era, and instead, asks people to tweet him, and then uses those stories in real-time. this has a great potential and power for the member to gather information, process it, and use it all at once, short cutting those sort of institutional things that we are used to having here on the hill, or that colleen talked about before, where it kind of goes through
staff, instead of it becoming an immediate example to be used on the floor. our third example comes from congressman amosh who often provides voting explanations on his facebook page. this is one example from november 2017 where he explained why he voted yes on h res 631 which was a rule for the consideration of two house bills. it's a succinct explanation but gets directly to the point that he is explaining himself to his followers and his constituents on why he made a particular vote choice, even if this case for something that he doesn't necessarily ultimately support for final passage. he does support the debate on that measure, on the house floor. this has got a lot of power, right, taking the member's explanatory statements directly to the people, not necessarily through the press shop, although i'm certain -- one would guess
this went through his press shop at least at some level, but it does provide the direct access to his followers on facebook to provide that vote explanation. our final case study is probably everyone's favorite. in march 2017 representatives used a road trip from texas to washington in an effort to get here during a snowstorm to connect with constituents and followers using facebook live. so instead of me trying to describe that road trip, i want to show you a video from cbs this morning which summarizes the road trip and what they did as part of facebook live on -- >> yesterday's snowstorm provided a very unique way for a pair of congressmen to put any differences they have aside. we are at the u.s. capitol watching the republican and the democrat who hit the road together.
chip, good morning. >> oh, good morning. with so many flights cancelled this week because of bad weather, two congressmen from texas decided on an unusual plan to get back here to the capitol in time for votes this evening. they weren't close friends before the trip started, but that appears to be changing. >> we just stopped in austin at south by southwest -- ♪ on the road again >> two texas congressmen decided to beat the blizzard embarking on a cross-country road trip from san antonio, texas, to washington, d.c. >> this is the high-tech map that i worked on last night. ♪ >> and they are live streaming the 1600 mile journey. ♪ >> but this is no ordinary political car pool. >> it's like car pool karaoke. >> one is a republican and the other is a democrat. >> he's going to want to do something. i might want to do the other thing. we're going to try to come to some compromises and model the
bipartisan agreements that we want to see on the hill. >> their bipartisan road trip is sort of a town hall on wheels. >> to answer your question, solve the country's problems. >> people are asking questions. >> and then somebody wants to talk about child trafficking. >> they are tackling issues ranging from healthcare to immigration to education. >> do we defund the department of education? >> no. >> and they are taking food recommendations. >> mocha is a good coffee shop. let's do that. >> we are never getting to d.c. >> they even skyped with me. >> i've learned a lot about him already, stuff i should have known, showing that we can disagree with out being disagreeable. >> do you think you can take that back with you to washington? >> i'm going to try. ♪ >> through it all, they are finding common ground. >> we can work together. >> water burger unites us. ♪ >> they arrived in nashville
about 2:00 a.m., slept for a few hours and hit the road again, and by the way, you just might be hearing more from the democrat. he's thinking about running for the senate next year against republican ted cruz, but he says so far, he's not counting on support from his new republican co-pilot. >> all right. so this -- i mean, this is a really good example of just sort of old-fashioned constituent service and connecting with the district, but it is also something that could never have happened before facebook live. maybe in the area of digital cameras, you could have recorded a little bit and hand it off to someone to eventually up load to a website. it is not nearly as effective as being able to stream that live, take suggestions on coffee shops to visit, restaurants to go to, and answer policy questions, which they certainly didn't have to do, but chose to do as part of their experience. so this is all very positive stuff. but there are limitations to our
research, and for that, as soon as i get the slide clicked over here, i will -- go ahead and hand it back to colleen. >> there's a lot of challenges to this type of work and we have sort of uncovered some of the challenges as we have gone along. as we move ahead in our research, we may want to, for example, move away from some of the case studies that we offered here today and think about how we can measure interactivity. the question of what is interactive representation will be something we will have to address in the future. is it simply followers tweeting back or leaving a comment on a facebook page? the question remains, what do we count and what don't we count? and that's an empirical question that's going to have to be taken seriously if you want to measure it. the other question is who is actually giving feedback? are they geographic constituents or nongeographic constituents? we don't know who is exactly
giving feedback to members of congress. that's another challenge about working with social media. by the way, members of congress don't know exactly who are their constituents and who are their nonconstituents on social media. this is an important distinction to keep in mind, particularly when we start to think about those elements of surrogate representation, understanding who is a geographic and who is a nongeographic constituent would be something important to solve so we could actually measure and think about it seriously. and the last concern is measuring the effects on policy and governance. so all of these examples of interactivity are well and good, but then we're very interested in how do members take this feedback, how i do that consider it -- how do they consider it and how do they change their actions, perhaps by emphasizing a particular policy issue or changing their opinions on a particular policy issue? how is social media actually affecting policy and governance? that's also a very complicated question to ask, because as you know, there's a lot of elements
that come into play when members are making decisions about what to pursue, how to vote, or what questions to ask in a committee hearing. but we still want to talk about what are the consequences of interactive representation? taking a step back, if all of these things are true, and this is the direction where we're headed, what does that mean for the big picture? what does that mean for american democracy? what does that mean for representative government? this is from a normative perspective. if we go down this path, you know, what can we expect more of in the future? first, the feedback given by constituents is restricted by the medium in which it's communicated. twitter is great, but you have a limited number of characters. instagram is very popular, but how does communication based upon images translate into a policy discussion or debate? snapchat is also popular. but you might question its efficiency for members of
congress or its efficacy. these considerations must be taken seriously, and it's important to mention them. technical mediums are defining what's possible and that's potentially a very big change for representative democracy. secondly, members of congress are given a specific budget or appropriation for the operations of their congressional office. these funds have largely flat lined in recent years, and this has resulted in smaller resources for staff. combine that with the reality that members now feel the need to perhaps hire an additional communications staffer to lead their social media efforts. that means that funding has to come from somewhere else in the member's budget. appropriations translate into a zero sum game. this can mean there will be fewer staff members available for policy and legislative matters. the allotment of resources in
the congressional office can have long-term impacts for what the institution focuses on. over time, we might imagine that members might be getting more real-time information from their constituents about their preferences, but also have fewer resources to translate those preferences into policy, proposals or deliverables. thirdly, i mentioned this earlier. over time, it seems as though nonresponsiveness will become less acceptable as a political choice. as constituents become more used to interactive representation and start to expect interactivity, it will be hard for members to refuse to engage on a regular basis. in fact, nonresponsiveness could become a real political liability. i think back to doug arnold's terrific book, first published in 92, titled "the logic of congressional action". the reason why members of congress can make decisions to
enact legislation benefitting the general welfare in part is due to the fact that some members' decisions weren't traceable to voters. also the existence of inattentive publics figures very importantly as well, as interactive representation surges, will inattentive publics and nontraceable effects exist in the future? in the likelihood they have already begun to disappear. fourth, surrogate representation has the potential to benefit from social media and interactive representation. previously if a member wanted to engage in surrogate representation, he or she had to develop in national profile of some sort to engage in that activity. that often meant that a member of congress had to figure out a way to get into mainstream media or attract some sort of attention or earn seniority in congress. but now members of congress can speak widely on a number of matters and they can become national leaders for
constituencies that never existed before. of course this can raise expectation for action and results. social media also provides the accountability mechanism that didn't exist before, for surrogate representation. this may not translate directly into votes on election day but it can have important effects for how legislators are perceived. it can also of course have ramification for the money that members can raise for their campaign coffers as well. and lastly, it's unclear how interactive representation will change our existing norms of representation. if you step back and look at the big picture, it could be that we're moving towards a more of a communications-based model of representation. that doesn't mean it's all or nothing. the communication completely represents -- completely replaces judgment or discretion all together. however, it does seem that how a representative communicates his or her actions and response to feedback -- and responds to feedback will become
increasingly important over time. down the road, this will have implications for the types of people who are elected to congress. and who ascends to leadership roles and who ascends to positions of power within the institution. i'm now going to turn it over to jacob for our closing remarks. >> so there is future direction to this research beyond and including what colleen just said. one of those avenues that is interesting is the potential for fake followers to impact how a member received information and the type of information that they are receiving. so a separate study that worked of what factors influence the number of fake followers a senator may have shows of ideology, the longer you are on twitter and the number of followers influences the potential for fake followers,
this is organically fake followers not paying for them, might have on the ability to receive information and know you are receiving information that relevant to you politically and policy wise. as colleen also hinted at, platform capabilities and content matters. especially when making decisions about the type of information you might be receiving on various different platforms, but also in terms of managing these platforms and what type of information you might post on them. some platforms are better for pictures. and other platforms are better for words. the type of information and the resources that are necessary to cross post that material, make sure you have an appropriate message for an appropriate space are all very important considerations. that leaves us to the idea of how do you manage this as i started to say. as this figure shows, a plurality of members have adopted six or more social media platforms. since the median and the mode is six, those who have adopted more
might be considered to be heavy social media users or those who have adopted fewer might be considered light users. how do you manage six platforms, let alone 12? thankfully no one is at 12. also, how do you have no platforms, where only one member is today or was last year. there's an expectation amongst constituents that amongst the american public that you are present on these social media platforms but finding that balance to managing all these platforms is a consideration that is being considered and does play into the idea of interactivity. that includes the formal part of our presentation, but we are happy to take questions and to have a discussion about this with you, and thank you for being such a good audience. [applause]
>> richard? >> hi. [inaudible]. -- the research that's been done on congressional communications pre-social media. you find that an awful lot of effort was basically wasted, that press secretaries put out release after release, that are sometimes ignored by the media, even the local media and a lot of members of congress had ambitions of being national spokesmen and it never panned out for them. do you find that true with social media as well? that some members had a presence on social media, but nobody is interested. >> there's a variation i think of followers, and there was some work that was done to show the distribution of the number of followers, but i think with social media, the members that really want to build a social media presence, they invest the resources to be able to do that. they either hire someone who is
solely responsible for the member's social media. that's one big resource that you can invest in it. and there was some research done into how many offices had actually done that, and it's growing. but also they get the advice from someone about how to -- just like anybody else, even if you're not a member of congress, how to build your platform and what the right mix of messaging is. some of it has to be personal. some of it has to be related to policy. and that right mix will actually attract more followers. so it's just like anything else, when members used to communicate through newsletters, the newsletters they used to send out, some members invested more time in those newsletters making them look really pretty and very comprehensive or sending them out more frequently because they really felt like that was their medium of communication that they had to focus on. in that sense, i don't think social media is really any different. ::
>> the whole phenomenon of going viral. and so one tweet that is particularly .1 facebook post can go farther than a single individual's reach as a result of that. i think that shouldn't be underplayed. you sent out a press release back in the day. a news outlet picked up or doesn't and that's pretty much it. maybe it's on your website. that's fine but now, tweets, as we know, they exist forever. they sometimes become popular long after youth symptom and that reaches much greater than it could be in that static environment. yes. >> there's a lot of energy put
into drawing the line between what can be done with campaign funds and public funds. have you done any exploring as to the future of that, because drying that mine with social media is almost impossible. >> it's a really good question. there is a stark division both in the law and the rules of house and senate about the official use of campaign funds. we focus most of our effort on official facebook, twitter and other social media accounts and handles and have been careful to exclude campaign accounts and almost all of the work we've done. but i think it actually is easier because the house and senate require that a member has a separate account for each campaign and for official
office use. dividing those is not as difficult as rethinking what we started this in 2009 and hand coded 1000 tweets for the senate members. it was a lot of work but it wasn't a lot compared to today. we did find instances where campaign funds were bleeding into the official count speed when you look at those tweets today, the percentage of campaign tweets on official account is virtually zero. they are very careful as they are with the use of cell phones and other things to make sure that is separate. between the two entities point but you are right, there can be - - between them. it's not something we have necessarily focused on closely because we try to keep that separate as a result of what the rules are within the chambers. that's how we've done it. yes. >> how long do you think it's going to be before this move
sellers from influencing of representational models to basically being a modalities for referendums. who's going to be the first substantive or senator that is on this particular vote, i will post a poll mechanism on facebook and vote according to the poll results? >> we've certainly not seen that. i don't know, twitter is so easy to post a poll. you ever seen a number post a poll on twitter, you know how you can do that? >> i don't recall. but we don't see every tweets. the technology certainly exist to poll on facebook and twitter.>> at that point, then like i said, the model or this notion in history, the moynahan model really then would be set aside. because then the representative
is basically nothing more than a conduit or a vessel to express the opinions and judgment and it has totally moved its way out. i don't think we see that. that's why i'm hesitant to say a communication space model doesn't have any judgment in it. we're just saying this is a matter of tilting in one direction or the other. more than we've seen in the past. >> i also think that members, even with the capacity and the potential of social media are very geographically focused. in order for that to happen, which is plausible. there has to be a mental shift within the membership that takes more than just a few members and to a summer get representational model. even members who think of themselves as targets to think of them selves as state or district based. i think that would be overcome, if that's the right word for that to happen. but you can see the potential for that to occur at some point. >> two quick questions.
in an earlier chart where you were distinguishing two different types of tweets or what have you, there was a media category and a member promotion category. i was wondering if you could explain that. the second was getting to the - - communication coming back to members. i thought that some of the reactions he got were thumbs up but some were angry face. do you think that members pay attention? do they treat the thumbs down an angry face the same? >> that's a very good question. from the slide on coding of the tweets. the difference was when we coded for individual member tweets, things that directed followers to the media, come see me i will be on c-span or fox or cnn or whatever. the member promotion, there were instances for the official committee account tweeted something out to promote a
member of the committee. so once a will be doing such and such or go see this thing that congressman x is doing. so that's the difference there. >> it's hard to generalize on all members. i will see the congressional management foundation about a year, year and half ago, with an examination on social media in which they actually talked to staffers about the importance of social media in their respective offices. the results from that study was that members, it took a lot of constituent mail to move a member. hundreds and hundreds of letters or emails these days. it was a much lower threshold for responses, tweets, or thumbs-up or thumbs down on facebook or twitter. because once again, what jacob said is the proliferation and
the fact that those comments are public. that everybody else can see them. when you send an email to a member of congress, that's a private transaction. you are sending that member your opinion but nobody else sees it besides the member and the staffer who are working on that issue. when you post something about a member whether it's promotional or critical. potentially the entire ocean media universe can see it. so that ways and heavily. and that's what cmf found. >> it seems to me now, more than ever in history, it's possible to come speak with your congressperson or your senator. people who do that by the millions every year, these tweets, compared to people coming and really think - - what do you say about that? >> it's an interesting dynamic.
my impression is that face-to-face meetings will always be more important than anything that's written. whether on social media or handwritten letter. there is a validity issue. that members have twitter and facebook at least. do you provide members with metrics that are not available outside the office to validate geolocation tags. when you know someone may or not be a constituent. you hear of stories on the news. i'm not sophisticated enough that you can change that. but knowing you are talking to constituents versus talking to someone who is outside the united states or great britain or on the moon. you don't know. members can be moved by a poll but maybe they think about, do i know that these people are my
people. or not. we don't know. this is all unfolding in real time. some of this is interesting and this brings up a secondary point. the house and the senate have treated social media very differently. it goes at that issue of how do we handle this? the house has sort of taken the position that everything is okay until we say it's not. the senate has taken the opposite position, at least initially, which is we want to approve each social media platform for official use before senators are using it. two different approaches. but it shows the different approaches that can be taken to that. yes. >> concentration of ownership in traditional media has increased of late. social media is very high. as these forms of media become more dominant and more
important to politics, is there a risk with their being undue influence? the algorithms behind what you see on your feet are generally opaque if not trade secret. or perhaps some impact on people's willingness to give fines or sanctions to these entities. >> i think that's one of my points at the end. the upside is assessed ability. it's true that more constituents visit members than ever before. certainly see that in high season in march and april on the hill and also with tourists in the summer. but there's also a question about equality of access. who can afford to come. what has the time to come, the resources to be able to do that. social media gets underneath that. which is the positive. but what i was trying to say is for getting rid of a lot of these barriers between members and constituents . like parties and formal groups.
you have to join an environmental group to make your opinion known to your member of congress because social is finding out that middlemen are able to express yourself directly. but the technology companies, the social media companies, the people giving us the platforms, they are the new filmmakers. they are the one thing how many characters you will get what the limitations are on facebook or what appears on your feet are what doesn't. you have to be very careful with replacing one set of institutional factors for a different set. that's where i think congress is starting to engage in understanding those rules being made and how that affects them right here in washington d.c. and how it affects the economy and transactions the united states and the world.
>> to follow up on your consolidation point, we see facebook and twitter are the dominant players in the market. when something new rules out, and we say they likethey say we. they realize they can just do that on twitter so why would you want to do it in six second rotating things. so there is that adaptation and adoption and the potential is there for the consolidation media affect. it's sort of the nature of the - - at some level. i've indicated we are out of time. i want to thank the u.s. capitol historical society for hosting this. we had a lot of fun. thank you all for your questions and for coming. [applause] >> if just left to me to wrap
things up. one of the most gratifying roles is left to me which is to feel gratitude and express gratitude for doctor colleen shogan and doctor strauss. and also the - - for helping us organize not just the start but the entire series. doctor - - and some other people that the library of congress and these wonderful surroundings. both last week and this week. reminder, next week we will be around the corner. i want to thank c-span and voice of america for projecting what happened here to a wider audience, including in asia. we couldn't do any of this without my colleague lauren bechard who takes care of all of us. i want to thank you for joining us and for meeting us around the corner next week. thank you again. [applause]
[inaudible conversations] >> tonight, on the communicators, look at 5g. the next generation of wireless technology and new infrastructure. 20 is on the program, former fcc commissioner and president and ceo of thewireless infrastructure association, jonathan avril edelstein. >> i am interested in 5g of
course. i think a lot of people are. what are the benefits, why do we care? >> have sensors, smart cities. you can do all of your services online. you will know where to park. traffic will be improved. the benefits go on and on for consumers. from their individual device working better to society being better connected to the overall economy going faster if we can get it right. >> watch the communicators tonight at 8:00 p.m.eastern on c-span2 . >> this week, book tv is in prime time starting tonight at 8:30 p.m. eastern, keith gaddy talks about his book, the rise and fall of voting acts rights. 2:00 p.m. eastern, michael schommer and daniel peterson from the freedom fest debate, his faith compatible with reason? wednesday at 8:00 p.m., michael eric dyson with his book, what truth sounds like.
rfk, james baldwin and our unfinished conversation about race in america. microsoft president brad smith with the future computed. artificial intelligence and its role in society.friday 8:00 p.m., adam bello talks about publishing authors from both the political right and left. watch book tv this week in prime time on c-span.org c-span2. >> next, look at rising bankruptcy rates among seniors. new study showed the rate has tripled since 1991 for people 65 years and older. as changes have been made to social security, pension programs and medical cost increase. this is from washington journal. >> take a look this chart on your screen. the rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was