When I run training sessions for candidates about social media I tell them to avoid it all. Mainly because your audience is only two types of people. Committed supporters and sycophants or people like me waiting to smash you up for stupidity.
Fortunately for me not many politicians heed my advice and so I get to smash them up endlessly, like Andrew Little or Trevor Mallard.
The second worst thing any politician can do is decid to sue someone for what they said in social media.
A Liberal Party candidate in Tasmania has threatened to contact the employers of Facebook users who “liked” a satirical article posted about him online.
Andrew Nikolic, the Liberal candidate for Bass, has since reneged on the threats after initially denying to Fairfax Media that he had even made them.
The New Examiner is an online satirical blog operating on Facebook and Twitter.
The story, posted by the New Examiner on Thursday afternoon, creates a satirical scenario in which Mr Nikolic is caught out claiming to have been “heroically killed in action during services in Afghanistan”. It then goes on to state that he claims to have suffered “a slow, painful death by torture at the hands of Tamil militants in 2002”.
Mr Nikolic informed the New Examiner last week that if the offending article was not taken down he would write to the employers of all the individuals who had “liked” the story.
“I hope the employers and influencers of your satirical group will be amused by the formal letters of complaint I will now send them on this issue,” wrote Mr Nikolic in a Facebook comment that has since been deleted.
The New Examiner refused to back down and retract the article.
“Threatening to contact employers is simply confirmation that Nikolic’s first response to pressure is to go on the attack, rather than consider the political implications of his actions,” the editor-in-chief, known only under the pseudonym Martin Gaylord, told Fairfax Media.
Mr Nikolic also named and shamed Facebook users who had reposted the article, in a message on his own Facebook page, which was later deleted.
“He doesn’t appear to understand that individuals [who] use social media do so for a variety of reasons, but certainly not to [expose] themselves to vindictive behaviour of this nature,” the editor-in-chief said.