State House Ban Has Tweeps Atwitter

Published January 24, 2011

No tweets at the State House

No tweets at the State House. (Photo illustration adapted from an image by Martina Oefelein/Flickr)

Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld talked to lawmakers about the Twitter ban on Beacon Hill (a ban I had thought was new but is at least two years old).

“This place has enough distractions already,” Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), told the Herald. “There should be more sites that are blocked. We should also ban solitaire, Bejeweled and Farmville.”

Wait, lawmakers can’t use Twitter at the State House because it’s “distracting?” (Hedlund, by the way, says he uses Facebook, which is not outlawed.)

Not quite. Battenfeld asked the rulemakers to explain the policy:

A spokesman for Senate President Therese Murray said the Legislative Information Services department made the decision to block Twitter, claiming the site is vulnerable to viruses.

Um, no. It’s true, Twitter has been exploited by hackers and spammers before. It’s an ideal medium for sharing nefarious links, cloaked by short URLs like and But Twitter is inherently no more vulnerable to attack than other social media sites.

Among the many critics of the ban is @mattgriffin, who tweets:

Isn’t email a far more active vector for phishing?

Absolutely. But I doubt Murray will ban e-mail anytime soon. Boston journalism student @Steve_R_Miller laments:

Twitter is already under-utilized by less than savvy Reps. This just does a bigger disservice to MA citizens.

Blogger John Peabody writes:

By banning Twitter from official computers, the Legislature is sending the wrong message to a thriving industry and to an informed citizenry.

Some agencies are using Twitter effectively. @MassGovernor and @mbtaGM are excellent resources — examples of public service made richer and more immediate.

What do you think?