Sen. Rand Paul makes Snapchat debut

<i>This post has been updated. See below for details.</i>

WASHINGTON -- Supporters stand with him on Twitter, rally for him on Facebook and Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) expanded his social media presence to Snapchat, becoming the first U.S. politician to use the app in a political context.

Announced Wednesday morning on the senator’s Facebook page, Paul promised “daily updates and behind-the-scenes footage,” with his first message arriving in the middle of the day.

In a brief video, Paul thanked users for following him, promising there’s more to come from his account “senatorrandpaul.”


Each Snapchat video or photo message is shared solely with individuals specified by the sending party, and all messages are automatically deleted within 1 to 10 seconds, though Mashable was able to snag a screenshot of Paul’s first message.

At least one other tea party favorite is a fan of the app, with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) commenting Wednesday that it’s her means of communicating with her kids, but no others have yet used the app as an official outreach tool.

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The National Archives confirmed in an email that Snapchats are considered personal papers, and not a part of the federal record, so there won’t be a formal preservation effort similar to the Library of Congress’ preservation of congressional tweets. Such papers are often given to the Senate Historical Office to be added to its repository, but Snapchat doesn’t exactly fit into the traditional mold. Those wishing to store Paul’s messages will just have to learn how to take screenshots on their smartphones.

[Updated, 1:40 p.m. Jan. 15: “Senators personally own their records and determine what is and what is not saved and where the records will be donated at the end of their service,” Senate archivist Karen Paul said Wednesday.

Senators are encouraged to keep a record of their social media activity during their tenure, and the Senate Historical Office is forming a working group to find a practical way for senators to do so, Paul added.]


Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Paul’s political team, said that the senator “always looks for a way to engage Americans of all ages,” and that Snapchat is just one of many social channels used to reach the public.

Paul has seen particular success on social media since his rise to the Senate, from vocal supporters taking to forums like Reddit to the globally trending #StandWithRand hashtag inspired by his 2013 filibuster on the Senate floor to draw attention to President Obama’s drone policies.

As for Snapchat, the app has been on an up-and-down swing of late, taking Silicon Valley by storm with its rapid growth and rejection of a $3 billion dollar buyout from Facebook. The business has also hired the firm Heather Podesta + Partners to shore up its lobbying efforts in Washington.

But its success has been tempered by a security breach that exposed 4.6 million user phone numbers this month. Many users were hit with a deluge of spam messages after the hack, though Snapchat says the two are unrelated.

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