Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, to school House Democrats on Twitter use

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, to school House Democrats on Twitter use

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez dances outside her office, solicits instant-pot recipes and gets into fights on Twitter. Soon you may see other Democrats ta

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Alexandria Ocasio Cortez dances outside her office, solicits instant-pot recipes and gets into fights on Twitter. Soon you may see other Democrats taking a page from her social media playbook.

The House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee is hosting a session Thursday morning with Ocasio-Cortez of New York (@AOC – 2.42 million followers) and Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut (@jahimes – 76,500 followers) “on the most effective ways to engage constituents on Twitter and the importance of digital storytelling.” 

The lesson comes as a generational divide between members of Congress and the tech platforms they oversee has been on full display. 

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Hearings with the heads of Facebook and Google over the past year showed that some lawmakers didn’t understand how the platforms made money – or even what they did.

“The older generation of members and senators is pretty clueless on the social media platforms. It’s pretty clear that a lot of members have 25-year-olds in their offices,” running their social media, Himes said.  

The decision to invite Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman, signals the party’s attempt to bring in fresh voices – even when those voices don’t always agree with leadership. 

Ocasio-Cortez has made a splash in the nation’s capital ever since she successfully unseated Rep. Joe Crowley, the Democratic caucus chairman, in a primary. On her first day in Washington she joined climate change activists for a sit-in at Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s office.

“Alexandria has very quickly built a national progressive following,” Himes told USA TODAY. He described his own following as “more typical of most members.” But both lawmakers will have useful insight for colleagues trying to amp up their followings, he said.

The biggest tip? People have “a real hunger for calling it like it is,” Himes said. “For kind of opening the kimono on personal details. Are you a person? I think a lot of people believe politicians are manicured.”

The Connecticut Democrat has made a deal with his staff that he can manage his own Twitter unless he’s drank more than two beers (that rule came after “a beautiful haiku” Himes put up about the Metro North train after drinking).

He also can’t tweet about body parts (he once tweeted that his scalp was sweating after eating “super spicy chili.”) And he’s not allowed to tweet about all he learns on the House Intelligence Committee because, well, that’s sensitive stuff. 

At 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest member of Congress and has become something of a sensation with both sides of the aisle for her progressive views and use of social media to share opinions and policy positions. She’s attracted millions of followers, far more than the average lawmaker.

The pair will be joined by representatives from Twitter and the House Administration Committee for the briefing.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office declined to comment for this story.

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