Like other Twitter users, members of Congress delete and revise their tweets. Unlike most Twitter users, however, lawmakers maintain official accounts — a use of taxpayer resources — which is why the Sunlight Foundation considers them fair game to monitor for Politwoops, our database of deleted tweets by elected officials, launched earlier this year.
Freshman may be new to Congress, but they seem seasoned when it comes to social media skills. Based on our sample of congressional Twitter behavior so far, new members, who make up 20 percent of the 112th Congress, are sending out 19 percent of the tweets. On the one hand, that means the freshmen aren't taking to heart the old adage about congressional newbies being seen and not heard. On the other, our survey suggests that newer (and in most cases, younger) members (or, their staffs) don't have any advantage over the old bulls when it comes to the use of new media. Nor do they appear to be any more prone to let their fingers walk where they shouldn't: In our sample, freshman deleted tweets at a similar rate as their more senior collegues, expunging only three percent more tweets. And they were less newsworthy than some of their more veteran members who, for example, passed on bad information about the Supreme Court health care ruling and, in one case, deleted an entire Twitter account out of apparent mortification over an inappropriate retweet.
The House freshmen's bloopers have been relatively mild, like Rep. Blake Farenthold's inadvertent spamming of followers with his travel schedule. To give you a flavor, we put together a storified collection of some of their deletes. Give it a few seconds to load: