One of the top draws for DC tourists is the White House, where I just learned that they clear you not only by Social Security Number, but also by Tweet.
Personally, I enjoy the US Capitol Building tour which does not require a full security clearance or my Twitter handle and is much more fascinating than the White House.
For one, White House tours are hard to get, demand far exceeds supply, perhaps explaining the big draw for one of the most underwhelming tours in DC, next to the Old Post Office Tower.
And the general public may not fully understand that the White House tour is lacking because it fails to show off the West Wing, Press Briefing Room and Rose Garden – you know, the cool stuff. It does, however, end near a great portrait of Ronald Reagan.
White House tour request protocol begins with a congressional office, which submits your information to Secret Service months in advance, where tours are arranged through some kind of White House selection lottery. I don’t have exact stats, but a ballpark anecdotal guess is that 10% or fewer applicants actually get the tour.
I just came across the White House tour form request fields used by congressional offices and was surprised to find that the White House now requests the tour applicant’s Twitter handle. It is optional, yes, but still very strange.
It would be one thing if the handle is used to add to the White House’s list of Twitter followers, only the White House doesn’t follow back about 25 million of its followers.
So how, then, is the handle being used? Is it being scanned by Secret Service or a politically appointed screener in a way that might avoid granting the coveted White House tour to people like…me? Is that how they are using their poor interns these days?
I don’t want their lousy tour anyway.
Here are the requested fields for the White House tour: