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Facebook, YouTube, and the dangers of radio mics

Rory Cellan-Jones | 13:54 UK time, Thursday, 29 April 2010

Our latest report for the Daily Politics looks beyond Twitter - described by some as the virtual Westminster village of the campaign - and tries to assess the effect of Facebook and YouTube on the campaign.

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After a quiet start, with few people visiting its Democracy UK page, Britain's biggest social network claims to have since achieved lift-off. That's partly thanks to Nick Clegg, who appears to be a big hit with the Facebook crowd. But there is also some light-hearted fun to be had on Facebook's election page, including a Ministry of Mates app where you get to form your own cabinet. I've tried it myself, and have been careful to appoint the most prudent and smartest economist I know as my chancellor.

Party videos are plentiful on YouTube; we've looked at some of the more creative material uploaded by people from outside the Westminster village. There's a view from inside the green room as the leaders prepare to debate, a rather cruel video using Pulp's track Common People, and the first mash-up we could find involving yesterday's "bigoted woman" disaster. Talking of which, our report ends with a salutary reminder of how dangerous technology can be for a politician - or for anyone who forgets that the mic may always be on.


  • Comment number 1.

    YouTube is adding a level of public memory and transparency to politics that may dramatically alter the game. On the other hand, twenty years of the mass migration to the Net has done little to change politics.

    Dr. Strangelove
    University of Ottawa
    Author of Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People (University of Toronto Press, 2010)

  • Comment number 2.

    If I go to study journalism will I just be told to simply regurgitate what irrelevant nonentities are spewing on Twitter or Facebook? Or to just find a blog somewhere written by someone and forward it on?

    This relentless barrage of what people are saying on Twitter/Facebook/Blogsphere is now far beyond tedious. If I want to know what uninformed bigots have to say about something I'll go down my local.

    Is this mic on?

  • Comment number 3.

    There are innumerable political blogs. Mine is possibly the best. At least in my opinion !Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 4.

    And now, apparently, we have one of the candidates revealing postal ballot returns on Twitter. Isn't that illegal? Can the results be challenged if the voting patterns are affected?
    I've long thought Twitter was for newbies, children and the attention deficit.
    Being of a certain age profile, I was also perturbed to stumble into a Conservative Homepage to see one contributer refer to his own constituency elders as "retards". Do these people not realize how off-putting this is to older voters, when they can't even show respect to their own footsoldiers? Like an open mic, who knows who is listening?
    Well, they all know now. The standard of debate has sunk this low.
    There will be a grey vote backlash.

  • Comment number 5.

    Alan, sounds like Nick Clegg is trying to pull off a UK version of what Obama did in the US in 2008 - quite a stretch though, Obama took the use of social networks in campaigning to a whole new level!

    @Doc StrangeLove - I think you're right although the volume of material published on the likes of YouTube etc certainly takes that transparency away. There is just too much stuff available and not enough decent analysis around that can summarise the relevant issues for the public.

    Sizwe (Political cartoon blogger)

  • Comment number 6.

    Maybe its because they use computers, but from what I saw and what I read, the idea that there is any nice sentiment out there on Twitter to Cameron from the general populous is incredibly misguided.



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