Social media has allowed public discourse to plumb new depths
The 2017 Twiplomacy study by Burson-Marsteller found that 92% of all UN member countries have a presence on social media with 856 Twitter accounts belonging to heads of state in 178 countries having a combined audience of 356 million followerseditorials Updated: Nov 26, 2017 16:43 IST
With each passing day, the level of political discourse on social media is falling to a new low. With all the noise about non-issues such as Hindi film, Padmavati, memes about Nehru’s imagined transgressions and, internationally, the ever-entertaining United States President Donald Trump’s regular outbursts, social media has enabled a troll-level discourse in politics across the world. With no need to engage with the press or have a two-way conversation on important issues, leaders prefer the one-way transmission of opinion, self congratulation and hate that such a platform allows. Their followers are happy to follow.
Social media may have given leaders the ability to speak directly to people, but it has also encouraged the worst tendencies of instinctive repartee made without thought or consultation. The past few years have seen a definite rise in leaders using social media, with more politicians taking to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with their constituents, and give opinion. But the amount of effective communication has mostly been overshadowed by the low level of discourse. The reigning monarch of this behaviour is Mr Trump, who calls out on Twitter everyone from TV anchors to Opposition members, from actors to athletes.
The 2017 Twiplomacy study by Burson-Marsteller found that 92% of all UN member countries have a presence on social media with 856 Twitter accounts belonging to heads of state in 178 countries having a combined audience of 356 million followers. Even as Twitter feeds of influential leaders, both domestic and international, become sources for news, the efficacy of such diplomacy remains in doubt. Social media – owned and governed by private corporations – has become the tool of choice for leaders to lash out, ridicule, and even threaten, is a dangerous low in the quality of public discourse around the world.
First Published: Nov 26, 2017 15:43 IST