In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Barack Obama embraced social media as an important part of campaigning for office. Since then, social media has become a staple component of any campaign. However, it seems social media is also causing problems for one politician attempting to harness its powers to strengthen his campaign. According to the BBC, London Mayor Boris Johnson is in trouble for supposedly hijacking the official Twitter account for the Mayor of London.
Now, you might ask how one can hijack an account that's already dedicated to you, and that's a very good question. You see, Johnson is running for re-election, and is said to have changed the official Mayor of London Twitter handle from @MayorOfLondon to @BorisJohnson, transferring the account and its more than 200,000 followers to his own name. He also changed the bio to include a link to the Back Boris 2012 campaign website instead of the old link to the City Hall website, www.london.gov.uk. This has drawn complaints from those who think that the @MayorofLondon account belongs to the office of the mayor and not the mayor himself. The BBC reports that Labour Party London Assembly member Len Duvall complained to the Greater London Authority's Standards Committee about the situation.
"My understanding is that this Twitter account was established by the Authority and belongs to the Office of the Mayor of London, and has been maintained since its inception by GLA resources," he is quoted as saying. "As such, this account does not belong to the current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Can you quickly establish the facts and intervene on this abuse and misuse of resources in undertaking this transfer."
A spokesperson for the GLA said that Johnson felt it would be inappropriate for him to tweet as Mayor of London during the pre-election period. Because of this, he's decided to tweet under his own name. According to tweets seen by the folks over at The Verge, Boris tweeted from the @borisjohnson account (formerly the official @mayoroflondon page) and said, "Day 1 of official election period! No City Hall resources in use, so all Tweets until 3 May are from my phone or @BackBoris2012 team." Another tweet later in the day clarified @borisjohnson will only be used for mayoral duties while @backboris2012 will be used for his campaign.
However, after all of that, it appears things have returned to normal. At time of writing, the account @borisjohnson shows no tweets at all (though it does have 187 follows), while the @mayoroflondon account is alive and well. No word as to what changed Boris' mind, but it does bring about some interesting questions about campaigning in this digital age.