A trio of Texas journalists have claimed that Texas Governor Rick Perry has blocked them from following his Twitter feed and reading the daily tweets on his popular personal account.
Tom Benning, a journalist for The Dallas Morning News, reported Sunday that he had "tried to follow Gov. Rick Perry (@GovernorPerry) on Twitter" a few days earlier and received the following the message: "Could not follow user: You have been blocked from following this account at the request of the user."
A puzzled Benning posted on the Trailblazers blog, "I didn't know it was possible to block people from following you. Secondly, Perry has more than 35,000 followers. And lastly, several of my Dallas Morning News colleagues already follow Perry."
Benning said "He put a call in to the Governor's press office," and was told by Ashton Morgan "the Governor has sole control of his personal Twitter account. She added that she would try and get an answer as to why he was blocked."
A few days had passed with Benning waiting for a reply. Benning reports "he saw tweets on Sunday from Bud Kennedy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Scott Braddock of KRLD" that referenced the @GovernorPerry account. They read:
"@budkennedy: Is it just me or has @GovernorPerry also blocked you from following him on Twitter? Hurt that I'll miss text on his next gig with Ted Nugent"
"@scottbraddock: How many members of the Texas media are blocked from following @GovernorPerry on Twitter?"
Benning said "he was curious to find out why" he was blocked from following Perry on Twitter. He contacted Governor Perry's office with what he says were a few "pretty specific questions."
"Why have I been blocked from following the governor on Twitter? Does the governor have sole control of his @GovernorPerry account? Is he the person who decides who to block? Why does the governor block some journalists and not others? For instance, several of my DMN colleagues follow him. How many journalists does he block, and what is his criteria for doing so? Lastly, does the governor tweet from state-owned computers or smart phones?"
A Perry spokeswoman, Katherine Cesinger, responded with: "Yes, it is the Governor's personal account, so he manages it as he likes. He uses non-state resources."
Perry has a number of Twitter accounts that include the personal account that has stirred up the fuss, an official account, @TexGov, that provides news from the Governor's office and a campaign staff Twitter account, @GovPerry2010.
The personal account is the most popular of the three with almost 38,000 followers compared to just over 5000 followers each on the other two twitter accounts.
AllTwitter reported, "Governor Perry is sending a message that runs counter to the open nature of Twitter with his actions. He obviously wants to keep his timeline private from some of the media – while leaving it open to the over 35,000 people who are already following him."
And this isn't the first time Perry has been called out by the media over his Twitter account. Statesman.com posted a year ago that "Perry says he blocks Twitter users who attack him with bad language, but he's also blocked a few progressive bloggers, according to a Twitter list kept by Katherine Haenschen of the Democratic news site Burnt Orange Report. When a Twitter user blocks someone else, the user's tweets no longer appear in that blocked person's stream of messages, and the blocked person is no longer on the user's list of followers."
The Statesman said, "Perry sometimes refers to Twitter as 'Tweeter,' but it's clear he grasps the nuances of the short-form social network" having successfully utilized many forms of social media networking, including Facebook and Twitter, in his bid for re-election.
Perry told the Statesman: "We knew texting and e-mails played an important part of the 2008 campaign. But we really didn't have an understanding of the breadth and depth of social media." Perry said he met with "Jeff Hunt, a co-founder of PulsePoint Group, a management consulting firmm" and after "it was laid out, that was kind of my 'Eureka' moment," in having a greater understanding of how to leverage social media.
A search of Twitter @GovernorPerry finds numerous tweets asking the same question Tom Benning asked of the Governor's office. How many journalists or media outlets has Rick Perry blocked?