As Gov2.0 takes off not only in the United States but the entire world, the question of whether or how much, social media should be part of the initiative is commonly asked.
Many people are quick to criticize the government using such public forums for policy and information sharing but it only makes sense for them to use social media to their advantage much the same way the private sector already does.
Social media has caused people to organize themselves differently than any other time in history. Instead of just being from somewhere and going to some school, you can be classified under special interests, etc. If government sticks to it’s archaic policy of information sharing and interacting with the people, they are missing a huge advantage in progress towards the goal of transparency and also risk alienating large groups of people, mainly their own citizens.
While the debate over government use of social media is hot, with pretty solid camps of for it or against it, I’m with the all for it camp, recognizing the benefits and potential to the government and the people.
As a politician, being able to put yourself out there to the people you represent, the ones who voted for you should be appealing. After all, a big part of winning elections and remaining in office is the ability to market yourself to the citizens.
As a government entity, it would be stupid not to be involved with social media platforms. Look at the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia where social media was the catalyst in giving a voice to the repressed people, causing them to unite and revolt. Any government, which cannot recognize the power behind that and use it to their advantage, getting involved with the people, is basically giving up any kind of power.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter open the way for real-time interactive discussion and a forum for the people to express their support or disdain. The government can have immediate feedback on policy. Can you ever imagine a time when the President will give his State of the Union Address then refer to his Twitter account for immediate feedback? Maybe he already does and hopefully this interaction among the people and the government will be beneficial in creating policy that actually works.
Maybe with the people getting a say on Social Media platforms, politicians will have to be more accountable for things like, giving themselves raises or using public funds for private endeavors.
To me, the shift to using the Internet and social media, speaks volumes of a government committed to changing to be more transparent, and less separate from the people it was created by and for. It’s up to the citizens to encourage and support the government on social media whether as an entity, agency or single politician and up to the government, and beneficial as well, to listen to the people.