Tuesday, 12 October 2010

More on social networks and politics

Just after Malcolm Gladwell's article was published in The New Yorker, Frank Rich had an op-ed in the Sunday New York Times called "Facebook Politicians ARe Not Your Friends". The op-ed brings together Gladwell's article and the new movie about the Facebook founder called The Social Network and takes  a generally cynical view of social networking and its effect on democracy. Mr. Rich writes "the democratic utopia breathlessly promised by Facebook and its Web brethren is already gone with the wind.  Nowhere, perhaps, is the gap between the romance and the reality of the Internet more evident than in our politics. In the idealized narrative of digital democracy, greater connectivity has bequeathed more governmental transparency, more grass-roots participation and even a more efficient rendering of political justice... But you can also construct a less salutary counternarrative....The more recent miracle of Twitter theoretically encourages real-time interconnection between elected officials and the citizenry. But it too has been easily corrupted by politicians whose 140-character effusions are often ghost-written by hired 20-somethings...When South Carolina governor Mark Sanford was pretending to hike on the Appalachian Trail during his hook-up with his mistress in Argentina last June, his staff gave him cover by feeding his Twitter account with musings about such uncarnal passions as 'Washington D.C. financial recklessness.'"

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