Forget email, congressman uses Snapchat
NEW YORK — Life as a congressman can get pretty hectic, especially when you’re presiding over your first hearing and taking the gavel for your very first time. One way to break through the chaos? Snapchat.
Meet Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. On Wednesday, the Republican presided over his first House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee hearing. Days like this are highly scheduled with hearings, office tours and meetings — all of which can be hard for a staff to manage, especially when there’s a high frequency of email to muddle through.
But fear not, it’s Snapchat to the rescue.
Duffy’s office has built a unique rhythm and culture; where communicating through Snapchat helps them keep everything on track. It’s also become a fun, easy way for the congressman to communicate with his wife and older children.
Provided exclusively to CNN, here’s how a frenzied day in the life of Rep. Duffy plays out on the platform:
The congressman’s first order of business on a busy day, a morning huddle.
Snap #1 is a selfie with his staff, that naturally, the congressman took with his very own selfie stick. This was sent to his wife, older children and the rest of his staff:
Snap #2 It’s hearing time! Sent to staff, this is Duffy’s big day. His first time presiding over a subcommittee hearing:
Snap #3 is a snap from the congressman himself, sent to the staff. He is at his hearing and taking the gavel for the first time. “Game on”:
Snap #4 is from the office’s communications director to staff, also confirming that the “boss is in the chair.”
Snap# 5 Hearing is over… but wait, Duffy is being asked for interviews. To let his staff know they’re being held up, his legislative director snaps this photo to his communications director.
Snap #6 Tour group time. The office took this snap of a tour group waiting for the congressman. It was sent to Duffy to let him know the group had arrived and to expect them upon his return:
Snap #7: Duffy sends a snap to their office scheduler to see if he has a meeting set up with the dean of the delegation, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. According to this snap, “The Dean” wants a meeting.
“It started out as a fun way to stay in touch with my team, and quickly turned into the most effective way to stay in touch,” Duffy said about using the platform. “Right now, it’s just an internal communication medium, but as Snapchat expands their reach, we’ll look into ways we can do that too.”
Duffy, unlike most of his colleagues, or maybe all of his colleagues for the exception of Sen. Rand Paul, is using Snapchat in a harmless and useful way. The executive branch unfortunately doesn’t have this luxury with the Hatch Act, which places greater restrictions and regulation on political activity.
According to the Global Web Index, Snapchat was the fastest growing social messaging app in 2014. With the recent launch of “Discover” which includes publishers like CNN, news organizations are trying to adapt to this trend and reach younger audiences in platforms they already use.
This does however beg an important question for possible 2016 presidential candidates. In a world where the millennial vote is hard to attract, joining and building a public audience on this platform seems attractive and almost necessary to reach a younger voter base. But what sort of legal and ethical questions does a disappearing messaging app create for those running for office? Apps like Snapchat make it easy to communicate sensitive and confidential information without a trace.
As of right now, the law for campaigning doesn’t seem to have caught up with this kind of technology, which is something we learned from Chris Moody’s report on using Twitter to stretch election laws. Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel responded to a tweet asking what she thought about changes in social media and politics:
Admitting that the coordination rules were “sadly murky.”
When I reached out directly to the FEC, they guided me to a list of recent advisory opinions on campaign finance law and communication, which makes no mention social media. It’ll be interesting to see how messaging apps like Snapchat, Twitter, Whatsapp, Kik and others challenge current law in 2016.
But in the meantime, there’s at least one congressman who found a way to use Snapchat and adapt to new forms of communication, all while using it to build a positive connection and culture in his office.