Fourteen years ago, an organization I was involved with pushed to change congressional rules to allow members of Congress onto Twitter. Like many of the starry-eyed democracy and technology efforts of that era, we saw the potential upside — closing the gaps between elected officials and the people they represent, allowing movements to push their governments to liberalize their policies — but we did not anticipate the potential downside, especially how Twitter would weaponize its algorithms to elevate the worst in people in pursuit of “engagement” and money.
Twitter became, in part, the crossroads between politicians, journalists, civil society, and notable individuals in our society. But it has become a toxic cesspool that aided the rise of authoritarianism.
For many years social entrepreneurs have sought to elevate the virtues of micro-blogging platforms while ameliorating the downside. The Fediverse, and Mastodon most notable, is one such example.
A forthcoming blogpost will address some of the many lessons we’ve learned since the early days of “let our Congress tweet,” especially how the Congress — and the federal government writ large — should support engagement on those platforms.
For now, we’re tracking as Members of Congress, congressional committees, leadership offices, and non-partisan legislative branch offices make the plunge onto Mastodon.
Our spreadsheet listing elected officials on Mastodon is below and available at this link. We are working to verify congressional offices so that we can confirm it is an official account. We verify the account either by receiving an email from an official congressional address to my email account, [email protected], or if they’ve updated their Twitter bio to include their official Mastodon email address.