Du Fresne on Twitter and politics

Karl du Fresne echoes my thoughts on Twitter, Politicians and politics:

Mills’ piece tends to confirm my suspicion that Twitter proselytes are transfixed by numbers and speed. It’s all about being first with a piece of information, regardless of its value.   But elections are still determined by voters, not Twitter users. And even though the US reportedly has 140 million Twitter users (many of them not active), most people have lives to get on with. I can’t imagine that more than an infinitesimally small minority feverishly pounce on every fresh morsel from the candidates’ speeches.

Political “insiders” can excitedly tweet to their hearts’ content, but are they just babbling among themselves? How much of their digital chatter penetrates beyond their own self-absorbed realm to the masses who will choose the next president?

How many people are interested enough to absorb all this information? Years ago, someone came up with a clever analogy to describe the impossibility of keeping up with the flow of information online. They said it was like trying to drink from a firehose. If it was impossible then, how futile must it be now?

He is dead right. A constant stream of bullshit comments and retweets is not informed debate. Politicians mistake followers and tweets and re-tweets as engagement with swinging voters. This is a mistake.

There are two types of people who follow you on Twitter or Facebook if you are a politician. They are either sychophants/fans/supporters or they are people like me looking for a screw up or mistake that can be taken advantage of. They almost never are genuine swing voters looking for “engagement”.

Labour made this mistake at the last election when they followed Trevor Mallard’s vaunted online strategy which started with their database being leaked all over the internet by me…and ended with a constant stream of Social Media Own Goals culminating in their worst defeat since the 1920s.

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