Social Media As A Tool For Protest

By Marko Papic and Sean Noonan

Internet services were reportedly restored in Egypt on Feb. 2 after being completely shut down for two days. Egyptian authorities unplugged the last Internet service provider (ISP) still operating Jan. 31 amidst ongoing protests across the country. The other four providers in Egypt — Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr — were shut down as the crisis boiled over on Jan. 27. Commentators immediately assumed this was a response to the organizational capabilities of social media websites that Cairo could not completely block from public access.

The role of social media in protests and revolutions has garnered considerable media attention in recent years. Current conventional wisdom has it that social networks have made regime change easier to organize and execute. An underlying assumption is that social media is making it more difficult to sustain an authoritarian regime — even for hardened autocracies like Iran and Myanmar — which could usher in a new wave of democratization around the globe. In a Jan. 27 YouTube interview, U.S. President Barack Obama went as far as to compare social networking to universal liberties such as freedom of speech. [Read more…]

The Twitter Election? Not Likely.

There is much over-blown talk of new paradigms at the moment.

Before the 43rd Parliament has even met, the new political paradigm has been shown to be illusory. Standard politics continues apace. An old-fashioned deal has delivered us a minority government. Interest groups and political participants have begun positioning themselves to extract maximum advantage from the new Parliament.

Far from the political process becoming more open and transparent, it is more likely that backroom intrigue will flourish. Intricate deal-making seems set to reach new heights of ingenuity. The numerical permutations and combinations in both houses guarantee that practitioners of the so-called old paradigm will be called upon to ensure that things do not fall apart.

Another paradigm that has failed to materialise is the one that was supposed to deliver a “Twitter election” and usher in a new democracy powered by “social media”. Instead, the golden age of 140-character political participation has been clubbed to death by the established media and all but ignored by the main political parties. [Read more…]

ALP Entering A Brave New Internet World

The online world was abuzz yesterday afternoon with discussion of the Laurie Oakes question to Julia Gillard at the National Press Club.

Labor Connect?What really happened at the now famous meeting in Rudd’s office on the night of June 23? Oakes’s question indicated someone had been talking.

Political aficionados on Twitter speculated as to the identity of his source. Journalists opined on the dangers of making assumptions about leaks. Partisans defended Gillard or decried her treachery. The twitterati revelled in one of those made-for-social-networking moments.

In the midst of this anarchic discussion, as conversation threads came and went, the General Secretary of the NSW ALP, Matt Thistlethwaite, posted a tweet that said: “Check out Australian Labor’s new social network space, an Oz political first. http://www.alp.org.au”. [Read more…]

Rudd Launches “KevinPM” Website

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has launched a new website, KevinPM.

An email from Rudd to supporters of the Kevin07 campaign says: “I’ll be using the site to speak frankly with you about the big challenges facing Australia; the global economy, education, climate change, and the health of Australians, but just as importantly it will enable me to hear your ideas for the direction of the nation.”

The front page of www.kevinpm.com.au

Rudd says: “There are also links to social network sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and the photo-sharing website Flickr so you can participate in the democratic process in the way you feel most comfortable.” [Read more…]

Malcolm Turnbull Twitters

Malcolm Turnbull, Leader of the Federal OppositionI’m following Malcolm Turnbull on Twitter. Is that more disturbing than knowing that he’s following me?

The Opposition Leader joined the micro-blogging network Twitter this week. As of tonight, he has 627 followers and is following 593. He’s written 20 updates, the most recent informing us that he was in Crows Nest with Joe Hockey.

Whilst some Australian politicians have blogs and Facebook pages, Turnbull is the only one I know of who is tweeting.

Crikey has a good piece today on the use of Twitter by Bigpond customers. In turn, Bigpond customer service now has its own presence on Twitter.