In addition to accepting letters via postal mail, people can now send messages to the administration via Facebook Messenger.
When Facebook users click on the “Message” button in the White House’s Facebook page, they will be greeted by a chatbot. After users are finished with writing their message, the chatbot will ask them for their contact information – mailing address, e-mail, and phone number – to minimize spam and threatening messages.
The government has always recognized how citizens play an increasingly large role in communicating messages about public issues and campaigns. According to Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman, President Obama reads 10 messages from citizens every night. He also says that U.S. presidents have been reading messages from the public ever since Thomas Jefferson started doing that.
To stay connected with citizens, the government has always strived to keep up with the changing technology. For instance, the White House began to accept phone calls in the 1880’s and online messages on their website in 1994. What makes Obama’s administration unique is that they dramatically improved their social media communication with the public. With the success of barackobama.com and the administration’s presence on Twitter, Reddit and Facebook, President Obama is revered as the first president to have effectively used the Internet for successful politcal outcomes.
Although President Obama’s term is nearing its end, he continues to raise the bar for communications between the government and the public. Hopefully, after he leaves the office, future presidents will go leaps and bounds to better listen and respond to the public.