Thursday, June 9, 2011

Don't Hate Twitter

Using social networking tools to get information quickly to the people is empowering government.   Microblogging also allows governments to interact directly with constituents.  This is why Twitter is currently one of the most effective social tools for instigating political change.

The United States government uses microblogging to achieve various goals.  They broadcast status updates about current events, distribute surveys to monitor public sentiment and provide information to promote active dialogue with constituents.   Some politicians keep their tweets similar to a press releases, like Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, whom tweets with statements like "Record Unemployment Claims Show Need for Action Now".  On the other hand, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a Democrat Other politicians keeps her tweets unfiltered.  Regardless of how information is presented, the ability to explain government decision making and improve communication is increasingly popular with politicians and the public.

The pace of Short Message Service (SMS) technology cannot be controlled or stopped.    This makes it a perfect platform for moving small amounts of information very quickly.   In China, Twitter is blocked by government, yet local and  government approved microblogging companies like Tencent and Sina Weibo are attracting new followers.  The Chinese government tries to regulate posts with censorship tools, like blocking related keywords or posts that could lead others to join in.  However, users are continually finding ways to evade them as well, from using roman letters to spell Chinese words out phonetically, or substituting sensitive characters for similar-sounding innocuous characters.  Microblogging is proving difficult to control and thus effective in getting messages to recipients.

Cyber freedom fighters of North Africa and the Middle East are using microblogging to change political dictatorships.   Recently, the US government released Arab and Farsi-language tweets during the political unrest in Egypt.   Egyptians were able to successfully oust Husni Mubarak after using microblogging to create a democratic protest in Tahrir Square.  The White House has seen this as a opportunity to spread the word of freedom to the people of political rivalries. 

Nowadays, microblogs play a key role in dissolving social discontent, interacting with constituents on current issues and governing smarter.  In my opinion, microblogs will greatly promote good governance.