(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)
In the latest event in the Obama administration’s full-scale embrace of social media, the White House announced on Wednesday that the public can now send President Barack Obama a message via Facebook Messenger bot.
This new (at least in this context) mode of communication, which joins postal mail, phone call and online submission via whitehouse.gov as ways to catch the President’s attention, is part of the administration’s social strategy of “meeting people where they are.” This same strategy led to the creation of Snapchat accounts for the White House and FLOTUS, as well as Obama’s Twitter account.
“The White House’s Messenger bot, a first of its kind for any government the world over, will make it [sending a message to President Obama] as easy as messaging your closest friends,” a Medium post announcing the new bot declares.
Open a chat window with the White House page and the bot directs you through the messaging experience. “Hi!” it exclaims, by way of greeting. “It’s great to hear from you—and we’re excited to learn what’s on your mind.” What’s on our mind? This is a very enthusiastic bot, that’s what’s on our mind. “(Fun fact: the President reads ten of these messages every night),” the bot adds, parentheses and all.
Indeed, reading ten letters a day is a method POTUS uses to keep in touch with what’s happening across the country. Of course this statistic doesn’t mean he’s reading ten Facebook messages a day, but hey. There’s always a chance.
Once you have submitted your message to Obama the bot repeats it back to you (remember to check for typos!) and, once you’re finally ready to submit, collects contact data like your physical as well as email address. Your interaction with the bot ends with a thank you, and a short video of Obama explaining why he likes reading letters from the public (talk about a feel-good sign off).
Cool bot, Obama. We hope you enjoyed our message.-30-
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