The Politics of Social Media, Literally… (PART ONE)

Social media has rapidly risen to the advertising method of choice for many groups and organisations for its ease of distribution and cost effectiveness. With the general publics growing Facebook addiction and Twitter mentality it’s no wonder that the biggest publicity whores of all, politicians have jumped on the band wagon. I think the first instance of this in Australia at least that I can recall is the Labor party using YouTube to promote good old Kevin 07. This also extended to Kevi’s Myspace and Facebook fan pages which have now become the norm for all pollies so it seems.

This current campaign is no exception with Julia Gillard Tweeting several times a day. This of course is not to be outdone by her best mate Tony Abbots incessant propaganda machine. However as much as I hate to say it QLD Premier Anna Bligh’s twitters actually seem to be written by a human and contain words like “sex” and “move on brother”. I guess when your jobs not under threat you can trash talk all you like!

But the point to all this is what are the legal risks and ramifications associated with not just the pollies using these tools but the use of any social media within the government and government agencies? With topics like the National Broadband Network at the top of the electoral issues its obvious that the government is making its best efforts to keep Australia moving forward in the technology stakes; unless of course you believe Tony’s POV. However there is no better way for them to demonstrate their commitment then to be seen using technology and at least pretend they have some understanding. Despite Steven Conroys obvious lack of understanding their intentions are good.

Now to try and get back on topic and not voice my political opinions any further! These public figures are taking full advantage of applications like Twitter and Facebook to interact with their public in an attempt to personalise their positions. This in itself does not pose any risks as such but what happens when a backbencher Tweets something that doesnt appear to be pro their party? Does this constitute as Malcom Burrows puts it,  “Damaging the employers interest and is the conduct incompatible with the employees duty and an employee.”

In the case of politions the unfair dismissal laws are more or less non existant, as I dont think they are actually employed as such. Rather they can be voted out of the party by the other members. This would certainly be a different dynamic in the workplace…

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