When Barack Obama first took office, social media was just then exploding into mainstream popularity. The administration began to use sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr to reshape public perceptions of the president. Images of Obama hobnobbing with George Clooney, Bruce Springsteen, Robert De Niro, Bono, and Beyonce began appearing on White House social media pages. Photographers on the presidential payroll depicted Obama as a larger-than-life figure, respected by leaders abroad and BFFs with celebrities at home.
As the White House gained more control over the creation and distribution of its own images, the less inclined it was to allow the independent press to photograph the president, writes Reason TV's Todd Krainin. And it's not just Obama. All over the world, leaders are producing idealized versions of their own identities on social media. From the White House on YouTube to 10 Downing Street on Flickr and even Bashar al-Assad's Instagram page, we may never see our politicians in the same way again.
(Check out Krainin's previous work on the President Obama "reality show" here.)