U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper regularly checks his Facebook page to catch up on what constituents are saying.
Within seconds, the Republican 3rd District congressman from Mississippi can respond to their comments on energy independence, health care, immigration and any other issue.
“Let’s face it, the new technology allows me to stay in touch with my district and my state,” said Harper, of Pearl. “It’s fast, easy and fun.”
Harper and other lawmakers are turning to social-networking tools to communicate directly with constituents. Most use YouTube, where they post speeches made on the House or Senate floor or television appearances.
Some have a Facebook page, often holdovers from their campaigns.
Others have turned to Twitter, which allows users to micro-blog what they’re doing, minute to minute. Updates, called “tweets,” can be filed from a computer or from a mobile device like a BlackBerry.
Most lawmakers have a BlackBerry, which is paid for from congressional office funds.
According to TweetCongress.org, which tracks members of Congress who tweet and tries to encourage those who don’t, 142 members of Congress use Twitter, including 93 Republicans and 49 Democrats.