Will social media decide the election?

Social media is the buzz phrase du jour. As a phrase it covers a wide variety of online tools that are used for sharing and commenting on information and entering into online ‘conversations’ and ‘communities’. The best known of these include Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Posterous and of course blogging tools like WordPress (that this blog is written on).

However, what is particularly interesting with regards to the election is that it wasn’t a mainstream activity when we last voted our MPs in. Over the last few years it that has grown dramatically and is no longer talked about just by geeks. Nowadays many, if not most people, use one form of social media or another.

One of the great advantages of it, at least according to supporters, is that it democratises access to debates and movements – if you have an internet connection you can join in. You can become a respected and influential commentator based on the quality of your comment and not the position you hold – and even if you don’t start the debate you can easily join in (by posting comments, tagging, ReTweeting etc). It is mainly through social media that we now have many more ‘citizen journalists’.

For politicians it allows them to ‘knock on doors’ electronically and can be a powerful and exciting tool if used correctly. Not all of them get it yet, but many do.

However, it also provides everyone with the opportunity to hold our elected representatives to account. Many people have blogged about the expenses scandal and I’m sure many more will blog about their views of the main parties, of candidates, of policies and of the behaviour of people on the campaign trail.

So given the power of social media to hand more power to the people – will it decide the next election?

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This post was inspired by this news and this post.

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One Response to Will social media decide the election?

  1. Tom Austin says:

    Decide the Election?
    This is a big ask, I too ask it, but it is still a big ask. The new-media does afford most of the populace the opportunity to interact with their fellows and to discuss a wide variety of topics in relative safety. For things can still get heated and rightly so.
    This new found freedom to express oneself does not lead directly to interaction from all who use it alas, but I take solace from the fact that once what is written is read it is hard for it to be ignored.
    I am not familiar whith tweeting or facebook, I rather stick with using the more deliberate and deliberative avenue of blog commentary. With this I have found that it is the more politically committed of us that have the most to say. Something should be done and done soon to broaden this, but what?
    I was glad to hear, Patrick that you have envited those standing as Independents to come here to offer up the meat of their arguements for comment. It is the chasm between local concerns and Parliamentary intentions that may yet defeat the Independents. Some common intent must be revealed and having those Independent PPCs discussing here and expounding too via The Independent Network their shared intent for; Democratic reform, societal unity and the future and our part in it etc.
    I am confident that at the very least the electorate have come to know that there are more options open to them than the usual suspects. This new-media has had an impact there.

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