Lawmakers atwitter over State House Twitter ban
BOSTON -- Twitter is blocked for legislators and staffers on their office computers on Beacon Hill. Now, some tech-savvy leaders are bringing up a communication breakdown between them and the corner office.
The first amendment is 272 characters long. You'd need two tweets to communicate the whole thing, but that is not the explanation as to why state lawmakers can't Twitter on state house computers. It's a concern about viruses that had the State House IT Department block the site on all lawmakers’ computers.
"We're a high-tech area here in Massachusetts. If we can't figure out how to make this work in the State House of Massachusetts, what are we doing?" said Rep. Geoff Diehl.
Republican Representative Geoff Diehl of Whitman rode social media in part to his first term in office.
"I promised a lot of transparency up here in government when I got to office. And so I actually found it's a good way to communicate back what's going on to my district while I'm up here," said Rep. Geoff Diehl.
But in a refreshing twist, this issue doesn't split on party lines. Senator Robert Hedlund of Weymouth, also a Republican, is a non-tweeter.
"It certainly doesn't preclude anyone from twittering with their own devices, you just can't use public property to do so," said Sen. Robert Hedlund.
There are strict laws separating campaign activities from official business, and some lawmakers keep separate phones for that purpose. But if the Twitter ban is about viruses, it doesn't stop the governor's staff in the same building from tweeting, and everyone can use Facebook.
"I think it might help restore faith in what we're doing. I know it seems like a silly issue as far as Twitter because of the name, but truthfully, it's a communication tool," said Rep. Geoff Diehl.
"I don't know what they're doing sometimes, but I think it shows a lack of decorum, a lack of respect for their colleagues who are engaged in debate," said Sen. Robert Hedlund.
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