Obama Boosts Internet Street Cred With Reddit Q&A

The Web-savvy POTUS spent an hour online, becoming the first president to engage with an unfiltered audience in a live chat

While the Republicans were convening in Tampa, one high-profile Democrat was convening a group of his own in a heavily populated expanse of the globe known as the Internet.

Further cementing his role as the first president wholly engaged with social media, Barack Obama took to social news site Reddit, answering questions submitted by members in a format called “Ask Me Anything,” or popularly, “AMA.” The format allows direct communication between members and celebrities and other personalities -- or in this case, leaders of the free world.

The social media maven-in-chief answered questions for a little over an hour about his administration’s stance on Internet usage rights and space travel. He also responded to a question about his most difficult decision while in office. He spent time on a long, considered answer that began, “The decision to surge our forces in Afghanistan. Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you,” as excerpted in The New York Times

A counter on the Reddit page at one point registered 30,000 visitors. The site may have experienced difficulty keeping up with the traffic, as some folks took to Twitter to complain that they couldn’t get in.

Like his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before him, the president himself seemed to show his Web savvy by referencing an Internet meme based on a photo of him seeming to look mildly impressed (call it the anti-McKayla Maroney). As excerpted in The Times, Obama wrote, “By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole Reddit experience — NOT BAD!”

Further humanizing the president was the beginning of his sign off: “I need to get going so I'm back in DC in time for dinner.”

The real question is if Mitt Romney will be able to step up his Internet game in time for election day. Hey, Mitt: Catch you on Instagram?

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and iVillage’s Chief Election News Blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.

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