A little after 10 AM eastern time, Donald Trump tweeted that he would be participating in a 2016 Q&A hosted by @TwitterNYC. Then, Twitter exploded. #AskTrump promptly started trending across the United States. Soon after, it started trending worldwide.
In the United States, with every successive political season, social media becomes more intertwined with the centuries-old democratic process. Microblogging websites like Twitter offer politicians the opportunity to fire off hundreds of short, simple posts every day; Twitter has become a virtual platform for politicians that’s always open, a place where someone is always listening. During the latest Republican debate, Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders found quite an audience on Twitter.
The British government’s plan to appoint a director of digital engagement, with responsibility for overseeing a move to engage more with citizens through social media and other digital technology, has been ridiculed by the main opposition party.
The central government job has been created “in recognition of the huge increase in the use of the internet, digital communities and social media” and “will work across Government departments to encourage, support and challenge them in moving from communicating to citizens on the web to conversing and collaborating with them through digital technology.”
The circa £120,000 ($174,000) per year salary for this three-year contract is probably the most questionable aspect of the role, and warrants some accusation by the Tories of it being a “grotesque amount of public money”. However, to brand it a “pointless job” and to devalue it by suggesting it’s simply about “ministers… faffing around on Facebook and Twitter” misses the point. [Read more…]
Compared to the US, the state of British political blogging tends to receive far less attention, yet it hasn’t stopped a prominent politician in the British government slamming the UK’s political bloggers for “spreading corrosive cynicism”.
Wrapped up in a speech which called for politicians to come from a wider social base, Hazel Blears accused political bloggers of fuelling disengagement by “unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy” and having “disdain for the political system and politicians”.
“The most popular blogs are right-wing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes,” she said.
“Unless and until political blogging ‘adds value’ to our political culture, by allowing new and disparate voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and pessimism.” [Read more…]