By most counts the first-ever White House Twitter Town Hall event on July 6 was a major success, both for Twitter and Barack Obama himself, with tens of thousands of questions sent to the President via the #AskObama hashtag.
To keep it relevant, Twitter created an algorithm that determined which questions were receiving the most retweets, favourites and replies, and so, while the President spoke for about an hour, he actually only answered 18 questions during the live broadcast. From a pool of 65,217.
So, here’s the question that really matters: which topics were left out?
During the debate, the President answered question over ten subjects: the economy, jobs and unions, education, the debt ceiling, the military, taxes, the environment, immigration, small business and technology. The economy and jobs individually represented 17% of all questions sent via #AskObama, so these definitely needed the President’s attention.
But 21% of all questions sent were on personal matters, and these were all ignored. This might have been because they were a little frivolous, perhaps, or splintered over too many minor issues.
But other major topics were also given very little attention or brushed aside completely. Foreign policy and political process each made up 6% of all submitted questions. Drug policy accounted for 4%. Healthcare, 3%. But none of these subjects made it to the table.
Q&A specialists InboxQ have produced another winning infographic that analyses how questions were selected, and where Twitter’s Town Hall event left us hanging. Of course, it’s not Obama’s fault per se – frustrated Americans should probably be blaming Twitter’s algorithm.