"I told (the doctor) Obama follows me on Twitter to show her the type of person I am," Brock said, according to the Daily News. "I’m a good person, a positive person. Obama follows positive people!" The hospital's objectives prior to her release? "Patient will verbalize the importance of education for employment and will state that Obama is not following her on Twitter."
But now the kicker -- a kicker that I admit I am personally a bit obsessed with. Barack Obama actually doesn't follow Brock on Twitter.
You see, @BarackObama isn't Barack Obama. It's Organizing For Action, the non-profit formed out of the remains of Obama's 2012 campaign. OFA leases the Twitter account from the president's campaign (which still exists as a legal entity). The organization uses the account clearly so that people will make the same assumption that Brock did, that it's the voice of Barack Obama. And when a Barack Obama supporter sees a tweet from @BarackObama asking them to give money to OFA, they're a lot more likely to do so than if they see a tweet from @OFA, the organization's official (and much-less-followed) account.
In fact, there's no way in which Obama could follow Brock on Twitter for the simple fact that Obama doesn't use Twitter. In his interview with the Huffington Post, Obama admitted that he's not on Twitter and then critiqued the vibe of the social media tool as "everything's a crisis, everything is terrible, everything is doomsday, everything is -- if it doesn't get solved tomorrow, you know, your presidency is going off the rails."
From a psychological standpoint, the distinction is unimportant. What's important is the hospital's overall analysis of Brock's mental state and that Brock's claim about being followed by @BarackObama was easily checkable but left unchecked. (We somehow doubt that the doctors at Harlem Hospital were drawing a fine line on the ownership of the account.)
From a political standpoint, though, it's fascinating. On a medium that's meant to represent a personal voice, does the genesis of that voice matter? Everyone loves former Michigan representative John Dingell's Twitter account, even though it often/usually isn't Dingell writing the tweets. What's the line between a personal account and an account that represents a campaign under the face of a personality? Or, what's more, a popular name that's leased out to an unaffiliated entity? Twitter gives public figures the ability to roll out perfect robotic versions of themselves, with people often being unable to differentiate between the Potemkin politician and the real thing.
But what do I know: @BarackObama doesn't even follow me on Twitter -- and neither does the president.