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Going Beyond Cat Videos: YouTube Brings Congress to the People

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Move over C-SPAN, YouTube is now bringing Congress to the people. All members of the U.S. Congress were invited earlier this week to start live-streaming video from their YouTube channels.

“Whether it’s to share a look into your daily work, broadcast speeches and meetings, or showcase events in your district, we can’t wait to see how you connect with your constituents,” a news release from YouTube says.

Congress can hardly wait, either. The House and Senate both issued “Dear Colleague” letters to congressional members urging them to use the technology offered by YouTube.

“This technology allows Members to communicate with constituents in real time at no cost,” Reps. Candice Miller, R-Mich., and Robert Brady, D -Pa., wrote in the House “Dear Colleague" letter.

Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lamar Alexander, R- Tenn., echoed the message in a letter addressing the upper chamber. The letter made sure to specify that “this free service complies fully with Senate Internet Regulations,” to which YouTube also adheres.

Although a congressional address has yet to go viral, YouTube’s relationship to politics is anything but random.

Chelsea Maughan, a YouTube spokeswoman, says the 2012 U.S. presidential and vice presidential debates were watched live in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Combined, the four videos garnered more than 27 million views, which is more than double the views of the original version of the Internet hit “Charlie Bit Me.”

YouTube believes such viewership is what drives video content, and will ultimately bridge communication between politicians and constituents. Time will tell how this partnership plays out, but both parties are optimistic about the prospects.

“Video plays a powerful role in bringing us closer together, especially when it connects people in real time,” a YouTube statement read.

“By transcending borders, empowering citizens and increasing transparency, it’s one of the many ways technology allows democracy to thrive.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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