Twitter, Access and Politics
Now, I’m not saying that it was all down to me (me me me – such a PR). But, on the 22nd of Aug, I personally replied to David Cameron’s Twitter post about his bad back (poor Dave) asking him what he was doing about Syria, and I attached a link to a blog by a Syrian citizen about the chemical warfare incidents (genocide) in Damascus, really heartbreaking stuff, especially I imagine if you have young children like Dave does.http://www.therevoltingsyrian.com/post/58902680033/the-chemical-attack-massacre-of-damascus.
I did this as a sort of experiment about access more than anything else, also as the Cabinet is a bit older than me, I wondered if they were being sent underground blogs like this, or if they relied solely on news-crews and confirmed sources, as they’re quite busy. Within 24 hours Dave cut short his holiday, and his next FIVE posts seemed to respond exactly to my question. “Obviously” I hear you say, as it had just happened, and was a global and international issue. All his people, will have been ALL over it….. As the Prime Minister it was the question that everyone will have been asking him.
Going back through his Twitter feed though Dave hasn’t spoken openly about war tactics before….it’s been more boy-y sports stuff like where Aston Villa is in the league, and, of course, the bad back. In the responses to his posts by other Tweeters there doesn’t seem to be any direct questions about policy or actions like mine either….so was he responding to me? Does he read all the things that people Tweet to him? Many of them which seem abusive? Does he have a DUTY to read them? Are they are the voice of “the people”?
In terms of access, and getting in contact with someone in the public eye – you can’t get any more direct than an official Twitter feed. Not least because it is harder for them to ignore; for the first time everyone can directly see that your message was sent, received and signed for. There’s no more lost in the post, the letter didn’t get to me or my secretary must have it on her desk somewhere. This also raises the question as to who responds to official Twitter feeds, the issue of responsibility and consensus as well as transparency is at the heart of the lawless Twitter system which is at the heart of the power of social media. I will never know if David Cameron even read my tweet, but the questions that immediately arise from this stream of cyber events are – does he have a duty to read it? and what does this say about the power of the people in the future?