Opinion: Twitter hires first D.C. staffer. But don’t call Adam Sharp a lobbyist

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Twitter has gone to Washington.

The Silicon Valley social media company, which can claim with some justification to have influenced politics from the U.S. to Russia, Iran and North Korea, has signed its first D.C. staffer.

Adam Sharp jumps ship from C-SPAN and will advise politicians on Capitol Hill on how best to use Twitter to reach out to their constituents. Previously he was deputy chief of staff in Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.

Sharp tweeted:

Will be @Twitter’s 1st DC staff, but join 300+ strong team committed to improving govt, political debate. Start 11/29. #gov20


Sharp has said he’s not going to be a lobbyist and merely will help politicians use their feeds in the most advantageous ways, such as campaign outreach, building online voter bases and, presumably, using Twitter to launch bitter attacks on their opponents. We’re kidding. Sorta.

Twitter announced in July its hire of President Obama’s social-media strategist Katie Stanton but denied she would be lobbying on its behalf, and said she would work for its business department on international development.

Many politicians used Twitter to congratulate fellow politicians or remark on polling trends during Tuesday’s midterm election. Twitter featured heavily in coverage of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger’s recent trade visit to China and Russia, while Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Twitter’s U.S. headquarters -- and the Kremlin’s first tweet -- also were covered in the national and international press.

Twitter also allowed Iranian protesters to coordinate their demonstrations against the Tehran regime last year and communicate their beliefs to an international audience amid heavy state censorship of the media.

And North Korea, which restricts its citizens’ rights to use Twitter, made headlines in August when its state-run media channel launched a feed.

Facebook has two lobbyists stationed in D.C. and recently lobbied California lawmakers on online privacy legislation.


-- Craig Howie

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Image credit: Adam Sharp’s Twitter feed