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The White House on Your iPhone: A Propaganda Tool?

white house iphone

Well, the fervor for iPhone apps can't reach any higher in the U.S. now: The White House has just launched its own app, with live content updates direct from the seat of power. But is this a democratizing move, or mere propagandizing?

The news was announced on the White House's own blog late last night, and apparently it made staffers there "excited" that they could now deliver "dynamic content from to the palm of your hand." The app has a number of content delivery systems built in—including live video streams from Presidential addresses, press briefings and so on. In particular, it seems the app has been released specifically in time for the State of the Union next week, which gives the President another broadcast system to his population in addition to the TV and radio—and it effectively turns the iPhone into a mobile TV for the duration of the address.

The app also includes direct access to the blog, and includes data from the briefing room, along with the recordings of recent speeches and briefings. To this end, it's evidently an attempt to provide an open government 2.0 facility that actually delivers relevant data to the interested public, journalists, academics, and so on. The addition of "behind the scenes" footage and on-demand video is also an attempt to add in a more friendly, down-to-Earth social aspect—making it seem like app users are getting a surprisingly personal insight into the inner workings of government.

But that's where this app, despite its benefits as a window onto White House goings-on (soon to be augmented with a Web site that'll work on other smartphones), is ever so slightly questionable. Because under the guise of providing access, it smacks of a propagandizing mechanism—simply because though it provides information, it doesn't seem to allow for "customer feedback" or even debate in the form of blog comments. That besmirches its Government 2.0 credentials pretty significantly. And before you argue that such feedback facilities would quickly descend into petty partisan name-calling, remember that if any body is capable of hiring a team of forum moderators who'd monitor the discussions, it's the White House.


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  • Russ Tolman

    Now the brain-dead Obamabot zombies can get their talking points delivered directly to their handset. Kudos, Barry!

  • Russ Tolman

    Now the brain-dead Obamabot zombies can get their talking points delivered directly... Kudos, Barry!

  • T Counts

    God forbid we should use technology to actually stay informed. The information from the White House at least sticks to the facts. They may yet hire some talking heads to give us updates on Tiger Woods but so far it has been just the facts.

  • Gregory Ferenstein

    Thanks for your comments. While the iphone is a good information receiving device, do you think it's capable enough to facilitate debate, especially with citizens on the other side of the political spectrum. And, if not, is this worth's the White House's limited energy?


  • Rebecca Ligtenberg

    I think use of the term "propaganda" is a bit strong. Anyone who has followed the Obama and/or White House in any media (emails, Facebook, etc.) can easily see that as Nick said, this is not an independent news source. Just because it's available for iPhone doesn't make it propaganda, there are still plenty of other sources of news out there.

  • Marc Ross

    The timing of the app's release comes on President Obama's one-year anniversary in office and reminds Americans that after last night's defeat in Massachusetts, Team Obama and this White House is still cool.

    Check out Advocacy 2.0 @

  • Nick Cope

    Relax, it's just a another news source and pretty evident that it's not an independent one. I think people can figure that out for themselves, just as they can figure out the political standpoints of other news sources.