members of parliament

Members of parliament: beware of Twitter

Are social media sites, like Twitter, a good platform for our members of parliament? Or do they do more harm than good reducing their political credibility?

Members of Parliament: don’t be naive

It’s amazing how naive some members of parliament about social media. They fail to see sites such as Twitter can damage any reputation for good judgement and sagacity. There was a time when only a handful of MPs who used it would get tech-savvy young staffers to send out tweets for them. They would send details of their itinerary, an occasional picture of them in their constituencies. Or some other innocuous information.

But unfortunately today any number of MPs have seized control of the means of publication. Not to do so, they worry, would get them accused of being out of touch. The fact is that not everyone wants their views on the NHS, Brexit or some other important topic. Rather they want direct, unfiltered access to them, every hour of the day. Or so MPs think.

Reflect, before sending

All this has had the dire effect of encouraging our members of parliament to rush to judgement on issues. Often these issues need reflection and thought. As opposed to wasting time on silly tit-for-tat exchanges with journalists or constantly sending messages in all directions:

Why do MPs go on Twitter at all? Why bother to control your public image – media advisers, training, care in interviews with journalists – and then risk it all by joining this lawless public message board? They can’t really claim it helps them with their jobs: only a narrow demographic slice of their constituents will be on the platform, and in any case few seem to use it for the purposes of engagement – an average 23% of tweets by MPs are direct replies (fewer for cabinet members).

They should remember that on Twitter the more often serious people tweet, the less seriously we take them. Yes, of course Twitter can increase a person’s public profile. But it almost never boosts their political legitimacy.

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