I was amused (and annoyed) to see a somewhat excited news article entitled “Gov. Scott’s Twitter Faux Pas“. The article suggests that because Governor Rick Scott’s twitter account follows some possibly unsavory Twitter accounts it’s “curious” and “plain disturbing”. And it goes on to urgently recommend that
[…] someone on his staff should monitor everyone who follows him and everyone he follows. Any offensive or questionable account should immediately be unfollowed, and the user should be blocked from following him. It’s Twitter 101, people.
I’ll give the writer some benefit of the doubt — she says she hasn’t been able to get through to the Governor’s staff to find out why he follows all those accounts. But in turn, the writer should have given the Governor the benefit of the doubt, too.
Because it’s easy to see what’s happening without having to ask: Rick Scott’s official account is followed by 34,160 Twitter users. Of those, his account follows 21,514 back. In the other direction, Rick Scott’s official account follows 24,001 Twitter users. Of those, 21,514 follow him back. In other words, Rick Scott’s official twitter account has obviously automatically followed back anyone who followed him — right up until the point that he hit the limit of followers that Twitter would allow him.
So, despite the article’s author’s excitement that Rick Scott’s account follows an alleged porn account, there is nothing more than mindless automation at work. Rick Scott is not scanning all 24K accounts he follows for a salacious tweet out of the tens of thousands his list generate every day.
Now, is it really Twitter 101 that Rick Scott needs to have someone spend time weeding out the one or two unsavory followers? Let’s be clear, as a Florida taxpayer, I do not want Rick Scott to spend my money on having state employees scrubbing Twitter’s lists of users. Let Twitter do that themselves. So, no. No state employees need to do this. Rick Scott may have many faults, but wasting taxpayer money is generally not one that comes to top of mind.
As for the suggestion that these unsavory followers “should be blocked from following [the governor],” I have to ask, why? Does the writer not know of Florida’s sunshine laws? Blocking someone from following you is the same as blocking them from reading you. That seems completely at odds with the principles of transparent government, doesn’t it? Yes it does.
Let’s all remember Twitter 102: Follows != endorsements. The governor can put that on his Twitter profile, if that will help people remember that rule.
In the mean time, can we get back to the issues that confront our state? Because who Rick Scott follows is not one of those issues.