Chapter 28The Politics of Engagement

The two words government and community are an interesting pair. Government is meant to serve the community, yet it often seems they have trouble wrapping their heads around our needs. In social media, this lack of congruence is amplified—with very public results.

For example, in the community, news happens quickly. We share what's happening around us on social media, where there is an expectation of getting a quick response. However, a recent article in the Globe and Mail1 reported:

Newly disclosed documents from Industry Canada show how teams of bureaucrats often work for weeks to sanitize each lowly tweet, in a medium that's supposed to thrive on spontaneity and informality.

Tweets are being put in front of the eyes and minds of staff and put through a 12-step process of editing and rewriting before they are shared. This has got to be the opposite of the spirit of Twitter, where conversations are quick and tweets are rarely seen past a few moments. The new information also showed that different departments had arrangements in place a few weeks before tweets were shared by Industry Canada to retweet them, because they knew retweets were valuable. A retweet has value only if it's based in the quality of the content, not because it is prearranged.

The article went on to say,

Public servants vet draft tweets for hashtags, syntax, policy compliance, retweeting, French translation and other factors. Policy generally precludes tweeting on weekends, ...

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