Today, President Barack Obama answered questions on Reddit in what’s called an “AMA”, or Ask Me Anything thread, making him the first president to participate in an online AMA on the user based website. Scheduled on Day 2 of the Republican National Convention, Obama’s participation rocked the Internet community, with Twitter exploding with mentions, and Reddit pretty much breaking due to the high volume of hits. As counted by Reddit, over 30,000 people visited the page in less than 10 minutes of Obama’s Twitter announcement, causing the site to crash. While it was back up in a few minutes, it was in “read-only” format. Towards the end of the chat, close to 2 million viewers had visited the AMA thread.
The president greeted redditors with this message:
Hey everybody – this is barack. Just finished a great rally in Charlottesville, and am looking forward to your questions. At the top, I do want to say that our thoughts and prayers are with folks who are dealing with Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf, and to let them know that we are going to be coordinating with state and local officials to make sure that we give families everything they need to recover.
To reaffirm that it was actually him answering the questions, here’s proof:
If you’re still not convinced it’s actually Obama, check out the tweet he sent out on his verified account:
Hey, everyone: I'll be taking your questions online today. Ask yours here: http://t.co/pcwZHo3O -bo
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 29, 2012
The community on Reddit is known for their support of Internet freedom bills like SOPA and PIPA, so one of the first questions asked was: “Is Internet Freedom an issue you’d push to add to the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform?”
President Obama responded:
Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too. We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody – from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business. And although their will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won’t stray from that principle – and it will be reflected in the platform.
Recognizing his audience, Obama was responsive when asked about more personal topics, like basketball and beer, naming Michael Jordan as his favorite basketball player, and promising the release of the White House beer recipe “soon”.
He balanced his more light-hearted responses with a discussion of hard-hitting topics like unemployment, money in politics, and balancing his personal life with his role as POTUS. When asked, “What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term,” he responded:
Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress – to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.
The live Q&A is now over, and of the thousands of questions asked in the duration of his AMA, which amounts to around 45 minutes, he answered 10 questions. His longest response was to a question from a recent-grad on unemployment, which you can find here.
You can see the full AMA here. But beware, due to the high level of activity on the website, the link might not load right away.