White House Press Secretary's Tweets Part of Presidential Record

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When President Obama was just the president-elect, the Secret Service and the National Security Agency were concerned that his use of a smartphone might pose undue security risks. White House staffers weren't sure what the smartphone with messaging capabilities would mean in terms of archiving requirements.


Who can blame them, really? President Obama is the first to occupy the Oval Office who is interested in contemporary means of communication, so they've never really had to think about it before. Eventually, with a few compromises, like limiting the people who have his new phone number, ensuring that classified information is sent and received only via secure lines, and probably also disabling the device's GPS capability, the president was allowed to keep his smartphone.


Minor tech crisis averted, right? Well, this week, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs fell victim to the microblogging craze that is Twitter. According to his Twitter feed, Gibbs started using Twitter Feb. 13. Tuesday, Gibbs spoke to White House lawyers about if and how his "tweets" would be archived as required by the Presidential Records Act of 1978. Wednesday, USA Today reported that Gibbs' tweets will indeed be included in the presidential archives, "because it is work product created as part of my job at the White House," he explained.


Those who follow Gibbs and retweet what he posts will not necessarily be included in the archives -- unless they "reply directly to Gibbs and only Gibbs." That, according to the attorneys, is equivalent to sending an e-mail to the White House. Yet another reason to stop and think before you @ reply.