David All of TechRepublican has a really good post following up on the Poltico story about the early online organizing for 2012 Republican presidential candidates. All, who was quoted in the story, chronicles a brief back and forth between himself and some Sarah Palin backers over the former Governor’s Twitter account. All had criticized Palin’s online team for starting a new Twitter account when she left office (and thus having to rebuild her substantial follower list). Apparently, when she left office, state officials claimed her Twitter handle was state property, forcing her to sign up for a new account.
All correctly identifies that whether or not Sarah Palin could have (she could have) or should have (she should have) laid claim to the account name, a bigger issue is at play:
The state-level IT folks, likely a problem in every state, pushed back on the account ownership question because they don’t understand how best to treat emerging situations that are not black and white technically, legally or politically… But we’ve now identified a problem which we should work to address collectively: How should the accounts of government officials be treated once they leave office?
This is no small question for governors who chose to run for President. Could Democrats in the Minnesota state legislature start calling for an investigation on Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Facebook friend list to make sure the governor doesn’t pull the modern media equivalent of swiping office supplies? Would Republicans in Montana have a right to do the same if Gov. Brian Schweitzer started to make waves with eyes on the 2016 ticket?
It would be wise for states to figure this out seriously while the issue is still non-controversial. In the absence of a policy, politics are sure to fill the void.