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HP ranks Pelosi top Twitter influencer in Congress

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If you’re an advanced Tweeter, you’ve probably started the purging process and are now updating your account(s) to reflect changes in the House and Senate.

If not, maybe this will help you get started. Or there’s always the unofficial list for the 112th Congress to make sure you don’t leave anyone out.

Researchers at HP Labs have narrowed the list down to the 100 most influential members of Congress on Twitter based on an analysis of 22 million tweets. They developed an algorithm to identify “influential users,” who “not only catch the attention of their followers” but “also overcome their followers’ predisposition to remain passive,” Ethan Bauley, digital lead for HP Corporate Communications team, wrote in a blog post.

Basically, having a cadre of followers wasn’t enough to make the cut.

Here’s the top 10:

1. Nancy Pelosi (@nancypelosi); D-Calif.; 15,964 followers (Here is the official account @SpeakerPelosi)

2. Paul Ryan (@reppaulryan); R-Wis.; 21,378 followers

3. Michele Bachmann (@michelebachmann); R-Minn.; 22,967 followers

4. Thomas Allen Coburn (@tomcoburn); R-Okla.; 17,631 followers

5. Bill Nelson (@senbillnelson); D-Fla.; 12,503 followers

6. John Boehner (@gopleader); R-Ohio; 48,604 followers

7. John McCain (@senjohnmccain); R-Ariz.; 1,718,288 followers

8. Joe Barton (@repjoebarton); R-Texas; 4,091 followers

9. Sherrod Brown (@sensherrodbrown); D-Ohio; 4,947 followers

10. Mike Pence (@repmikepence); R-Ind.; 13,631 followers

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Germany seeks to ban employers from checking applicants’ Facebook pages

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The Associated Press reports that Germany is considering a law that aims to prohibit potential employers from looking at job seekers’ Facebook pages or other private postings.

The proposed law would make it illegal for someone to “friend” an applicant to check out their photos and other private details. The AP says that “a rejected job applicant who proves he or she was turned down based on violation of the new law could take the company to court and claim damages.”

But even German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who presented the draft law, acknowledged that enforcement might be tough. After all, is it possible to conclusively prove you lost the job because of those unfortunate Mardi Gras photos, and not because another candidate was more qualified?

The creation of Facebook and other social media sites has changed the rules for all employers and job seekers — including those trying to get a job with the federal government. (The government also has struggled to figure out social media rules for its already-existing employees, though there hasn’t been any talk about limiting hiring managers’ abilities to look at applicants’ pages.) But instead of passing new, unenforceable laws like Germany is trying to do, why can’t people simply exercise a little common sense when they’re looking for a job?

Some job seekers have begun de-tagging incriminating photos or otherwise scrubbing their Facebook pages in recent years. If you absolutely, positively must post your bachelor party photos, it’s not that hard to beef up your security settings or create a list restricting who can view them.

And de Maiziere said that some people “seem to be indiscriminate” about who they accept as a friend, which he says is another reason the new law is needed. But once again, common sense. Do you really need so many Facebook friends that you accept anyone who comes along without thinking? After all, forgetting who you’re friends with exponentially increases the chances of posting something stupid and job-jeopardizing that your boss can see.

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Social media talks break down at GSA

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NFFE dislikes the General Services Administration's new social media policy.

UPDATE: Here’s GSA’s statement: “GSA encourages the use of social media technologies to enhance communication, collaboration and information exchange in support of GSA’s mission. GSA is currently in negotiations with NFFE to go through normal labor management processes to reach resolution. Last fall, GSA successfully completed negotiations with another labor organization representing GSA employees on this same issue.”

The National Federation of Federal Employees today said negotiations with the General Services Administration have broken down over a social media policy for GSA employees. NFFE said GSA’s new rules on social media could result in an employee getting fired for posting their thoughts on Facebook, Twitter or other Internet sites — even if they did their online musing from home on their own time.

NFFE said GSA fears that an employee’s online opinions could be seen as expressing GSA positions. (You don’t want just anyone setting official GSA policy on whether the double rainbow guy is high, or merely stupid.)

In all seriousness, there are no simple answers when it comes to the issue of boundaries when expressing opinions via social media, e-mail and other online features. It’s a hard lesson that some in the media have learned recently. Washington Post blogger David Weigel resigned last month after private e-mails to a listserv for liberal reporters called JournoList surfaced, in which Weigel trashed conservatives such as Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh. And Octavia Nasr lost her job as CNN’s senior Middle East editor earlier this month after tweeting that she respected a dead cleric who helped found Hezbollah.

But back to GSA: NFFE has asked for a federal mediator to resolve the dispute with the agency. NFFE said that negotiations broke down Friday after GSA refused to consider any of their suggestions for clarifying the policy and ensuring employees’ rights to free speech would be preserved. I’ve asked GSA for their side of this story and will update with their comment.

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FBI Tweets

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Earlier this week I wrote about how FDA was using Twitter to tweet about product recalls. But that’s not the only agency that uses Twitter to share information in a crisis.

The FBI tweets too. And is tweeting right now to let folks know that agency hostage negotiators are on their way from Albany to Binghamton, N.Y. to respond to the shooting and ongoing hostage situation there.

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Nuts about social media at HHS

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The Health and Human Services Department is tapping some of the same social media tools used to spread the word about salmonella-tainted peanuts to handle the budding pistachio crisis.

Already, the Food and Drug Administration’s recall twitter feed, which helped to quickly spread information about the nearly 4,000 products recalled during the peanut crisis, is tweeting about recalled pistachio products.

Other tools HHS used during the salmonella outbreak in peanuts could come into play as the department shares information about pistachios, Andrew Wilson, a Web manager for HHS’s Web Communications and New Media division, told Federal Times today.

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