This shouldn't come as news, but perhaps that's the point: @barackobama is not actually the Twitter handle for the 44th President of the United States.
Yes, that's his name; yes, pictures of him adorn the account; yes, it's a verified account. As The Wire previously reported – and reports once again – those running the Barack Obama Twitter account actually come from the 501(c)(4) non-profit Organizing For Action. The President himself is not firing up his super-secure BlackBerry and tweeting out messages like "Tomorrow: @HouseOfCards. No spoilers, please."
To the organisation's credit, it's very, very clear about mentioning up front on the Barack Obama Twitter page that it's the one doing the messaging – anything sent from the president himself will always be signed "-bo," and it's a pretty rare occurrence for Obama to Tweet.
Here's the problem, however: That fact isn't as prominent when one goes about the normal Twitter mechanics of retweeting items on the social service. For example, if your friend retweets something funny or interesting that came from the @barackobama account, you might accidentally think that the President is actually that into your favourite TV show or what-have-you — there's no context for the Tweet or, rather, the account.
And it's not just your average Twitter user that's getting confused from time to time. Media outlets have taken it upon themselves to run stories about Obama's supposed love of the Netflix series or, to use another example, the recent @barackobama Tweet in support of Mike Sam — the Missouri Tigers defensive end who recent took to the airwaves to announce that he was gay.
"What are these tweets? Is this OFA expressing its congratulations to Sam? Is it OFA talking about how excited it is for a new Netflix series? What's the voice here? After the Sam tweet, I reached out to OFA by email and phone to clarify who was speaking (so to speak) in that tweet. My questions weren't answered," writes The Wire's Philip Bump.
"Members of the media didn't grasp the distinction between @BarackObama and Barack Obama after those tweets either. At Mediaite, a story reports that 'Obama Tweets Congratulations to Gay NFL Prospect Michael Sam.' At Deadline, 'Fan-in-Chief Obama Tweets 'No Spoilers'' about House of Cards."
The issue that Bump sees with the entire process is that there's seemingly nothing to prevent misuse of the misperception: What's to stop another television show from, say, tossing over a contribution to Organizing For Action for a little free publicity from the organisation-slash-President-sort-of.
It's not clear that's taking place at all but, as Bump writes, it's equally questionable as to whether that could or would happen.
"That tweet from @BarackObama about the show has been retweeted over 30,000 times — an impressive social media marketing victory for any company. And if OFA wanted to, it could use @BarackObama for that for any number of things, besides simply the Obama policy initiatives that it usually uses the account to promote," Bump writes.
Perhaps the organisation could sign its Tweets "-notbo?" Of course, then the @barackobama handle is practically setting itself up for an Old Spice promotion.