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Transcript of Digital Citizenship
The Obama Campaign
The Obama Campaign
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Kevin Rudd's use of social media platforms:
Kevin Rudds ’07 campaign was influenced by the ‘Obama effect'.
He utilized social media platforms to engage a new and younger audience.
He was the first Australian Prime Minister to reach 1 million followers on Twitter (AAP 2011).
Rudd had a team of social media experts who not only post for Rudd but they utilize Data Mining. By which they collate statistics from social media to determine what will sway the audience to vote (Sheehan & Xavier, 2014, pg. 57).
As seen to the right is an example of Rudds interaction with Australians via his Twitter account. Twitter was especially useful for Rudd as it "facilitates interaction between across discreet social networks" (D Murthy 2013, pg. 4). Meaning that Kevin Rudd is more accessible to people as reaching more people on a personal level then ever before without having to leave the house.
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Twitter and Reddit: giving back
The posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook depict him as a ‘normal everyday guy’ therefore relateable and likeable, it gives an insight to his personal life.
This is particularly relevant to 18 to 24 year olds who dominate social media platforms.
Social media 'wins' can influence young/ new voters to be swayed without considering all party policies (R Mulholland, 2013).
What the presentation will be about
This presentation will explore Australian politicians use of social media with a particular focus on Kevin Rudd’s use of social media, US politicians use of social media and its effectiveness in harbouring support and the recruitment and radicalization of youth to support the Islamic State through social media platforms.
The social media age is upon us and with this come changes in patterns of social media use by all members of the community. In keeping with the trend, politicians have joined social media platforms as a way to keep connected with younger audiences; follow trends and respond accordingly, promote campaigns and election commitments in a cheap and accessible way and to share their personal goings-on to appeal to people on a more intimate level (Swinburne 2014). As a relatively new tool for communication, politics on social media is uncharted territory (Hochberg 2014) and is not governed by a set of rules. Ordinary citizens are able to share their views with an online world which knows no barriers and this is incredibly important for politicians who must be in touch with the concerns of their constituents (Bennett 2012 p. 21).
Rudd Cuts it.
Digital citizenship and dissent
Social Media's Role In Modern Politics
The Tweet picture to the left shows when Rudd cuts himself shaving. It was an example of social media crossing to mainstream media as it was broadcast on every news channel and newspaper.
Kevin Rudd's Twitter had 1,300,000 followers after the Kevin '07 campaign, more than eight times Abbott’s 148,765, it was photos like this that attracted followers (R Mulholland, 2013). Social media was used to reflect the personal life of K Rudd without the media spin and political driven advertisements that occur through mainstream media. it is interesting to note that Kevin Rudd won the '07 election and a much bigger online presence than Tony Abbott. This was also true of Obama's election where he has a much bigger online base when compared to Romney (R Mulholland, 2013). Although followers don't equal votes, it is obvious that it is becoming imperative to an effective and successful campaign.
A study conducted on the Kevin '07 campaign showed that although social media platforms are a great way to access new voters aged between 18-24 it was more so successful at gaining the votes of people engaged with politics (Howell & Da Silva, 2010). With online platforms people are mostly searching for things they are personally invested. Where Rudd was successful with the use of social media in the campaign was gaining votes from first time voters (Howell & Da Silva, 2010).
While in democratic countries social media assists in deciding who will be the next leader in less democratic nations Digital citizens don’t just vote leaders in by their engagement on social media they are the catalyst for social change(Howard et al. 2011). A political revolution freeing countries from long term dictators and oppression(Howard et al. 2011). This was seen during the Arab spring where Twitter feeds and blogs served the countries populations to access freedom of speech, ability to rally quick large scale protests and actions. Freeing, Egypt (twice), Libya, Tunisia and Yemen(Zammitt 2014). While the entire Arab region was physically engaged the worlds digital citizens partook. For instance, before the Arab spring, mentions of Egypt political change globally went from 2,300 per day spiking to 230,000 tweets by digital citizens calling for change(Howard et al. 2011).
Governments wanting Control
Not since the printing press and French revolution has the world seen such a marked change in tempo of communication, and freedom access to create and distribute information. With twitter Facebook and blogs all on such a large anonymous scale it is hard for a government to instil control. Leaving some countries to view digital citizenship a genuine threat to stability akin to terrorism. For instance both Saudi Araba and China both consider social media as non-compliant with social cohesion and have measures of control in place to restrict citizen access. In China Facebook, twitter are both banned with no access available from within the country. Government designed social media pages exist but with Government issued ID and accountability and censorship these are no more than a place to meet in public, negative political discussions are shut down and the people found and fines, or worse.
Its not just “bad” countries that know the risks to social cohesion, Australia is very aware of the risks social media has on at risk citizens(Naional Security 2013). Social media recruiting and radicalization of youth is a global method of non government association(Zammitt 2014). Anonymous, and Islamic State, ISIL are both leaderless organisations recruiting people via social media to instil a new value system and require global digital citizens to move from couch warrior to active sleeper cells(National Security 2014, & Smith 2012). The goals of Anonymous and ISIL are almost polar opposite, but there methodology remains similar. Each member has multiple social media accounts and is encouraged to be the voice of the movement with each post adding to the movements voice(National Security 2014 & Zammitt 2014).
Bridget McCue, Chelsea Trimble, Emily Ryan, Hannah McElhinney, Steven Mladenoski.
In addition to being active on social media, politicians must consider their actions ‘offline’ to ensure there is a fluid transfer of information between the virtual world and reality (Jericho 2012 p. 256). Risks such as negative commentary and sledging are associated with all social media participation however this rings particularly true for politicians who are under constant public scrutiny and are often subject to an onslaught of amateur political commentary online (Swinburne 2014). The evolution of social media as a tool for political networking creates a myriad of opportunity for politicians if it used in the right way however the risks need to be carefully considered to avoid negative backlash.
Amateur political commentary on a public forum -> could affect voters
Fast paced environment which can change instantaneously
Limitations in censoring public comment without 24/7 monitoring
Journalists can break news stories with a social media post, without the need to get approval from editors or seek comment from political media advisers (Jericho 2012)
Ability to break good news stories as they happen
Can respond to situations with ease and as they occur using a mobile device
Connects with younger voters
The social media president
A discussion on politicians' use of social media certainly necessitates a mention of Barack Obama's supremely successful 2008 election campaign.
This campaign not only earned Obama the official title of US President, it also earned him the unnofficial title of The Social Media President (Katz, Barris & Jain, 2013).
Connectivity was at the heart of Obama's campaigning efforts and this manifested in the creation of a social hub based within his official website. mybarackobama.com, or MyBO as it was often referred to, was a place where supporters could connect with each other, strengthen their ties and bond over similar interests, like "electricians for Barack Obama" (Harfoush, 2009). MyBO was integrated with Facebook, however in many ways what Obama had created was his own social networking site. This was an empowering thing for supporters, as Obama's website was not just a place to find policy information and a pure promotional tool, but a place for supporters to connect over a common cause. In this way, Obama's website was not about him at all, rather it was about supporters.
Screenshot of barackobama.com
Obama taking part in a Reddit AMA session
In order to connect people, Obama himself needed to make himself available. In 2012, Obama crashed Reddit with a surprise AMA, or Ask Me Anything Q&A session. Answering questions for a full half hour, Obama covered issues including including an honest admission to how difficult he found surging US forces in Afghanistan. Such engagement with citizens made Obama more accountable and accessible than any president before him (Leo, 2012)
Similarly, Obama used and still uses Twitter to connect with citizens. Obama held a mock 'town hall' on Twitter where he answered questions form the public while sitting in the white house (Leo, 2012). Today, Obama is in the top 10 twitter accounts for followers, and for those he is following (Twitterholic, 2014).
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd first Australian politician to reach one million Twitter followers,
The Daily Telegraph, Viewed 26 November 2014, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/former-prime-minister-kevin-rudd-first-australian-politician-to-reach-one-million-twitter-followers/story-e6freuyi-1226133873817
Bennett, W 2012, ‘
The Personalization of Politics: Political Identity, Social Media, and Changing Patterns of Participation
’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 644, no. 1, pp.20-39.
Harfoush, R 2009,
"Yes we did: An inside look at how social media built the Obama brand
, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Howell, G & Da Silva, B., 2010, New Media, First Time Voters and the 2007 Australian Federal Election, Public Communication Review, Volume 1, pp. 27 - 33, viewed 27 November 2014, http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/pcr/article/viewFile/1288/1526
Howard, P, Duffy, A, Freelan, D, Hussain, M, Mari, W & Mazaid, M 2011, 'Opening Closed Regimes What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?', PITPI, viewed 30 November, 2014, <http://pitpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2011_Howard-Duffy-Freelon-Hussain-Mari-Mazaid_pITPI.pdf>.
Holmes, D. (2013). Can social media swing votes in this election campaign?. The Conversation. viewed 30 November 2014 <http://theconversation.com/can-social-media-swing-votes-in-this-election-campaign-17679>
Hochberg, A 2014, “White House uses social media as ‘Costco version of politics’”, Poynter, 24 November 2104, viewed 27 November 2014,
Hegghammer, T 2013, 'How Syrian's civil war became a holy crusade', Foriegn Affairs, veiwed 20/11/2014 <http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139557/thomas-hegghammer-aaron-y-zelin/how-syrias-civil-war-became-a-holy-crusade>
Jericho, G 2012,
'How many votes are there on Twitter?
', The Rise of the Fifth Estate, Scribe, Victoria, Australia.
Katz, J., Barris, M & Jain, A., 2013, "The Social Media President", Palgrave Macmillan, New York
Leo, X 2012, "
Obama crashes reddit.
" UWIRE Text 4 Sept. 2012: 1. Academic OneFile. Web. 29 Nov. 2014
M. Sheehan & R. Xavier, 2014, Chapter 4: Understanding research, Public Relations Campaigns, Oxford University Press, Second Edition, Sydney, pg. 55 - 57.
What is Twitter? Twitter:
Social Communication in the Twitter Age, pp. 1- 5, Wiley, accessed via EBL.
Mulholland, R., 2013,
Can Rudd cash in on the Obama effect?
Mumbrella, Viewed 26 November 2014,
National Security, 2014,
'Islamic State | Australian National Security'
, Nationalsecurity.gov.au, viewed 19 September, 2014, <http://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/IslamicState.aspx>.
Smith, G 2012, '
Hacking group Anonymous could shut down the entire U.S. power grid, head of national security warns'
, Mail Online, viewed 30 November, 2014, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2104832/Hacking-group-Anonymous-shut-entire-U-S-power-grid-head-national-security-warns.html>.
Swinburne Online 2014,
‘Week 5: Digital Citizenship’, MDA20009 Digital Communities, Learning materials on Blackboard,
Swinburne University of Technology, teaching period 3, viewed 26 November 2014.
Kevin Rudd Social Media Campaign Gearing up
on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, News.com.au, Viewed 26 November 2014,
Zammit, A 2014,
Who becomes a jihadist in Australia? A comparative analysis
, 1st ed, Monash University, Melbourne, viewed 25 November, 2014, <http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/radicalisation/files/2013/03/conference-2010-who-jihadist-australia-az.pdf>.
Picture via News.com.au
The role digital citizens and the political play surrounding them is a modern construct mainly supporting the globalisation of ideas of freedom of speech, democracy and government transparency and accountability. The human face to a system.
This can work in the benefit or destruction of social cohesion. As seen with the American election of Obama and Australia's interaction with Rudd. The personal touches like the question answer time and Rudd's birthday tweets was vital in engaging the individual digital citizens. Supporting the democratic process in a new micromedia propaganda way.
When Governments feel threatened they have placed restrictions on the social media sites and some restrict demonstrated by china while Saudi Arabia just monitors heavily. And when didgital citizens hold or are recruited for ideology that is in contrast to the status quo, conflict and revolution is possible as seen in past uprisings facilitated by digital citizens using there global voices to support local change. Freeing people from dictatorships. There is a possibility for failed revolutions and terrorisim with the anonymous nature of digital citizens and western governments are struggling to cope with these actions.
The vast contrast between modern social media and traditional media as discussed is the flexibility and immediacy that social media offers.
As shown in this presentation, Digital citizenship is a vast complex nationhood, and like all nationhood bears a heavy duty of civil responsibility in our actions and shared freedoms.
Difference In Approach Using Social Media
Social media allows for a forum that is most timely and contextual, which is useful for politicians and their campaigners to shape the political climate, and the differences in how it works can be seen between the different systems that Australia and the United States of America have in their political voting.
As is well known, voting in Australia is mandatory for eligible voters whilst in America it is optional, and thus the way social media is used for political superiority is vastly different, highlighting the flexibility and range of options that producers of social media have. Prior to the introduction of social media it was difficult for mainstream media to provide the contextual and timely information that social media can produce, as well as having the ability to target more niche markets rather than just deliver the information to a mass audience (Holmes, 2013).
This is another key difference between traditional media and the use of social media to gain voters as mainstream media will always announce policy and strategy to the mass audiences via mainstream sources, however social media is more particularly used to gain familiarity and credence through the normality of its use, as seen with the Kevin Rudd shaving example previously explored.
Also the interaction aspect is intended to draw the audience prior to voting in any official capacity, and has found to be advantageous in the American system because it is asking viewers to respond to a question that illicit a response, thus increasing the chances of gaining that viewers vote. In the Australian context, it is merely used to continue to gauge and keep the attention of voters in order for them to not be persuaded by the opposition’s campaign.
However it must be noted that social media as a tool to gain political attention in the hope of attaining power is highly dependent on mainstream media broadcasting of the social media issues. As Holmes (2013) describes the level of influence attained is reliant on when the following that a leader has on social media is itself reported in the mainstream media. Within the mediums themselves, there is the connection established for existing followers, but this can only be useful in a campaign if it is itself held up as being yet another poll of support.