Update House social media rules to allow for better communication online between newly-elected Members of Congress and their followers.

One of the stipulations of the franking privilege is that communication must be limited to “official business.” For social media, this has translated to separate, official social media accounts—one for Members’ campaigns, and one for official business. After many Members build large social media followings during their campaigns for office, they are then required to create a new “official” account after being elected. This transition means that followers are disconnected from their elected officials at a pivotal point in the representation process.

Committee member Rep. Susan Brooks reflected on the inefficiencies of the separate-account limitations when she first entered Congress:

Image 8.2: Rep. Susan Brooks speaks during a Select Committee hearing.

Image 8.2: Rep. Susan Brooks speaks during a Select Committee hearing

“When I first came to Congress in 2013, it did baffle me that we could not migrate our campaign. It is the first time I had run for office, the first time, you know, created a campaign account, and those people that were following us that we had to educate them in very difficult ways, not, and if my memory serves me correct, only at one time could we even inform them, you know, to go to the official account.”
Rep. Susan Brooks, October 31, 2019

In addition, the use of two separate accounts generates continual confusion for constituents and Members of Congress alike. The two accounts are governed by separate rules and policies regarding what can be discussed, when the accounts can be used, and even the type of accounts that Members interact with. The lack of clarity between the rules governing these two accounts are notoriously confusing for Members and their staff. 

The Committee and the Commission recommended that Members be allowed a one-time transfer of followers from their campaign to their official social media accounts at the beginning of each Congress. This will allow Members to clearly communicate with their constituents at the start of their term, so constituents can follow their new account for legislative updates. The Committee recommended that the Commission clarify the rules that govern social media accounts to further reiterate this recommendation. By placing social media accounts under the jurisdiction of the Commission, rules and regulations of social media will be easier to find and understand.

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