The social media president

While social media tool Reddit may not be the same kind of household name as Facebook and Twitter, it has just gained a whole lot more kudos.

Renowned as the “social media president”, Barack Obama has just cemented his reputation by logging on to Reddit to hold a debate.

For those not in the know, Reddit works as visitors, known as redditors, vote on which of the day’s stories and discussions are important, with the hottest stories rising to the top of the site, while the cooler ones sink.

And Barack Obama’s discussion has swiftly risen to the top of the pile.

Obama became the first sitting president to participate in Reddit’s popular AMA, or Ask Me Anything feature. As news of the president’s participation spread across the internet, the site became temporarily unavailable because of the sheer volume of traffic.

Starting off by simply saying: “I am Barack Obama, President of the United States,” Obama prompted a rush of excitement, and cynicism about whether it was a hoax or not, across the internet.

But, with Reddit confirming it was indeed the American president, the questions came flooding in.
Swiftly brushing aside lots of the more trivial questions such as “What colour is your toothbrush?” and “Do you like cats?”, Obama swiftly got onto those dealing with more serious policy issues.

He first responded to a question on space exploration, which has been in the news recently following the successful landing of Mars rover Curiosity.

Describing the death of the first man on the moon Neil Armstrong as a “reminder of the inspiration and wonder that our space programme has provided in the past,” Obama went on to say: “The curiosity probe on Mars is a reminder of what remains to be discovered. The key is to make sure we invest in cutting edge research that can take us to the next level.”

Obama went on to answer a question about internet freedom after a user asked if it was an issue he would “push to add to the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform”.

He said internet freedom was something he cared passionately about, adding: “We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody, from those who are expressing an idea to those who want to start a business.”

It is by no means Obama’s first foray into the world of social media. The president has participated in Twitter discussions before and even promoted his Reddit question-and-answer session from his verified Twitter account.

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, is also a fan of social media, having opened an account on the photo-sharing site Pinterest. She recently posted previously unrealised family photos of the president enjoying some family time with his two girls, Malia Ann and Sasha.

Obama’s massive social media advantage over Republican John McCain is widely credited with helping him to build up support among young voters and to maximize turnout across America.