Denny Rehberg Turns Politwoops Critique Engine into a Promotion Machine

The Sunlight Foundation designed its Politwoops website as an engine for transparency to reveal politicians at unguarded moments:

Today we’re proud to unveil Politwoops, the only comprehensive collection of deleted tweets by U.S. politicians. From minor typos to major gaffes, Politwoops is now there to offer a searchable window into what they hoped you didn’t see.

The project follows the official Twitter accounts of members of Congress, President Obama and the slew of presidential candidates to track whenever they delete a Tweet and record the elapsed time before removal. The growing collection of more than 3,000 tweets in the past six months includes screenshots of included links and has individual pages for each politician.

But the congressional staff of Republican Representative Dennis Rehberg has recognized the potential for a promotion mechanism in the Politwoops website. Denny Rehberg’s list of deleted Tweets over the past 2 days read more like press releases than awkward missteps:

Rep. Denny Rehberg and the Tweets he Deleted on Purpose for Politwoops

Denny Rehberg ( R )
#politwoops archives things politicians may wish they could un-say - like "If you like your health insurance you can keep it."
Deleted about 16 hours ago after 2 minutes, originally posted via web

Denny Rehberg ( R )
RT @SpeakerBoehner You know what else has been deleted? Jobs in the Obama economy. Where are the jobs? #politwoops via @SunFoundation
Deleted about 18 hours ago after 40 seconds, originally posted via Tweet Button

Denny Rehberg ( R )
Scary thought: Many of the same pols that messed up 140 characters on #politwoops also wrote and voted for the 2,300-page Obamacare law.
Deleted about 20 hours ago after 2 minutes, originally posted via web

Denny Rehberg ( R )
Now, thanks to #politwoops, Twitter mistakes - like government mistakes - are around for good. Best to get both right the first time.
Deleted about 20 hours ago after 1 minute, originally posted via web

Denny Rehberg ( R )
If you think twitter mistakes on #politwoops are bad, just wait until you see the regulatory mistakes of the Obama Administration!
Deleted 1 day ago after 52 seconds, originally posted via web

This clever move may grab Rehberg a great deal of attention at first, although that attention is likely to wear off along with its novelty. If more members of Congress adopt Rehberg’s strategy, it will be interesting to see how the Sunlight Foundation reacts. Does it accept the use of transparency mechanisms to score political points? Does it segregate intentionally deleted tweets into their own separate category, and if so, how does it determine intention in ambiguous cases? Or does Sunlight begin to delete deleted tweets that it believes were not honestly deleted?

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