White House Takes 'Fiscal Cliff' Battle to the People on Twitter

But Hashtag Is Hijacked by Heritage Foundation

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The #my2k hashtag sparks debate.
The #my2k hashtag sparks debate.
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President Barack Obama has taken his fight with Congress over how to avert the "fiscal cliff" to the people. A Twitter campaign is urging folks to vent their frustration over the tax hikes that will automatically go into effect if the two sides don't hammer out an agreement on deficit reduction by Dec. 31. But conservative opponents wasted no time in hijacking the effort by buying promoted tweets around it.

The White House has asked Twitter users to post with the hashtag #my2k, representing the $2,200 in additional income tax it estimates a family of four will pay in 2013 if Congress doesn't pass legislation preserving tax cuts for families making $250,000 or less. In addition to harnessing the official White House Twitter account, it's blasted its message through the same digital megaphones used to support the president's re-election effort: his own Twitter account, @BarackObama, and @Obama2012, which was last active on Election Day.

All handles published the platform-agnostic message: "Call your members of Congress, write them an email, post it on their Facebook walls. You can tweet using the hashtag #my2k." But they don't address the true sticking point in the president's negotiations with Congress: his proposal to raise taxes on incomes over the $250,000 threshold.

The campaign demonstrates the White House's intent to try to harness the social-media followers the president has accrued to back him on policy now that there are no offices left to run for. (@BarackObama has upwards of 23 million followers.) It also appears that the Obama campaign is casting about for ways to give the digital architecture it's built for organizing supporters a new life. A recent survey emailed to supporters asks them what issues they're most interested in organizing around, including defense and national security, climate change and "avoiding the fiscal cliff," and which of the campaign's online tools they used during the election season.

It also shows that hashtag hijacking won't be limited to electoral politics. The conservative Heritage Foundation was running promoted tweets today in searches for #my2k with a link to an article titled "4 Reasons Warren Buffett Is Wrong on Tax Hikes!"

The #my2k hashtag had about 41,000 mentions as of this afternoon, according to Twitter. Whether they're helping the president's cause is up for debate, since a quick perusal of tweets with the hashtag show a significant portion attacking him. For example: "Where are your spending cuts #obama? #my2k aint worth a nickel unless feds stop pissing it away."

The tweets that have seen the highest engagement in the form of retweets, favorites and replies are from Barack Obama, the White House and Nancy Pelosi, according to Twitter.

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