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Making Facebook Personal

Or this one from July 17 on an item from Times columnist Paul Krugmans blog post about problems setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Paul Krugman is sad. So am I.

Or this one on a link to video of a floor speech about a proposal to change how Medicare works from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): I want to thank anyone younger than 55 who is willing to pay taxes for the rest of your working life so I can get full Medicare benefits, when all youll get is a pissant little voucher for private insurance. I think youre a chump, but I appreciate your generosity.

Its not unusual for Miller to be this outspoken. He has a sharp-tongued blog on the liberal website the Daily Kos that he infrequently updates. (His most recent post, from April, is a breezy recounting of how he got into Columbia Law School by way of criticizing Donald Trump. He jokingly uses the phrase cracker quota in describing what some might think of the schools policy on diversity.)

Still, he says his staff is not entirely excited about his Facebook musings.

I think they wake up every morning with trepidation to see what Ive written, Miller jokes.

One thing he says staffers dont have to worry about: the kind of social networking that former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) engaged in on Twitter with young female fans.

For one thing, he says, hes not technologically adept enough to post a photo on Facebook. But Miller, who is divorced, also says hes not interested.

Because his page is a personal one, and not a fan page, Millers friends can send him emails through Facebook. A few have written asking about veterans benefits or other problems. But a few have written unusually personal emails.

There are a few perfect strangers who worry me a little bit, he says. I think it might be an Anthony Weiner-like setup to draw me into something that would be politically embarrassing, so I obviously avoid that. And its not my nature.

Miller also vets his friends. If he sees a friend request from someone who has listed that they also like conservative commentator Glenn Beck, for example, he doesnt accept. And hes unfriended people who personally criticize him.

Somebody posted in a comment that wed all be better off if I just played golf, he says. Thats not adding to an enlightening debate.

Mileah Kromer, an assistant professor of political science at Elon University in North Carolina, says Millers approach to Facebook is unusual for a Member of Congress.

Kromer, who has studied how state legislators use Facebook, says most of them update their own pages because they dont have the staff to do it for them, unlike their Congressional counterparts.

After looking at hundreds of pages, she says she can usually tell which ones are staff-written and which ones, like Millers, are done by the politicians themselves.

It really is quite obvious to me that he is the one updating his page, Kromer says. You can tell a stark difference from Members of Congress who use a staffer to update it with very vanilla commentary that anyone could have written.

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