Transparency on Social Media for Australian Politicians
In 2021, the relationship between politicians and media publications/journalists is as contentious as ever with an unspoken war between the two. This unspoken war has resulted in published articles that make politicians look foolish or untrustworthy, further perpetuating their strained relationship.
Since this relationship does not appear to be on the mend any time soon, politicians need to focus on an alternative in which they can report and highlight facts in relation to the crucial work they do.
So, what is this alternative destination? Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of course.
But why social media platforms, you may be wondering. Well, the answer is simple.
In 2020, the University of Canberra’s News & Media Research Centre found that 53% of Australians receive their news from social media.
This high percentage shows that the government should be completely transparent and reliable with the content they post for the consumption of their constituents.
So what must politicians do to become transparent on social media platforms? This answer comes in pairs.
First, politicians must be consistent on social media channels at the federal and state level. And second, politicians must stop posting staged events to shift the discussion.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
It may not seem like a major issue to most, but consistent communication across a political party is a form of transparency that can win elections. After all, you do not want the head of the Liberal Party of Australia to have different information from the head of the Liberal Party of NSW.
You want both parties on the same page when they front a press conference. Thus, you want their social media channels to disseminate the same message.
A positive example of this was the dissemination of crucial information regarding COVID-19 figures and restrictions, during which the federal and state social media channels worked as one.
A successful party will see that the Scott Morrison/Liberal Party of Australia and Gladys Berejiklian/Liberal Party of NSW’s social channels are all posting the same message tailored to their specific social media channels.
But when consistency and transparency fail, this is when the federal social media channels boast about the number of vaccines that are available across the nation. In reality, NSW, the most populated state, is suffering a vaccine shortage.
Social media is a powerful tool and it must be used effectively if the government of the day plans to win another federal election come 2022.
STOP POSTING STAGED SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS
There is only one reason anyone posts a staged social media post, and that is to divert attention away from a bigger issue. Politicians are no different.
Look at Scott Morrison’s or even Gladys Berejiklian’s social media channels when something goes wrong within their party. They will either post something to humanise themselves such as a meal prep, a personal favourite of ScoMo, or post pictures with the NSW Blues.
The shift of discussion away from government issues that are on the agenda in an effort to remind the public sphere that politicians are just like you and me is a hard attack against transparency on social media.
How can staged social media posts be an attack on transparency, you might be wondering. Well, transparency is about showing that you have nothing to hide.
Covering up recent government failures such as a failed vaccine rollout, a controversial state budget or staggering unemployed figures with your latest home-cooked meal is deceitful to the voting public and needs to stop.
These two tips must be taken into consideration by the government of the day. As the number of individuals within the public sphere who receive news from social media will undoubtedly increase, it is the duty of politicians and their political parties to remain transparent and not be deceitful to the voting public online.
Mansour Shukoor is a Journalist for Chattr, Bubble Magazine and Hatch and a contributor for Public Spectrum.