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Study Examines Influence of Social Media on Interaction Between People and their Governments

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, August 17 2012

Ten years ago, Facebook was a small site used exclusively by Harvard students. Today it is a platform so huge and so common that it is practically a verb. Diplomatic missions — e.g., the US Embassy in Cairo — have their own pages and so does the Municipality of Tel Aviv. Breaking news events are tweeted live. Most businesses list their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts; and it's common to include one's Twitter and Skype usernames on business cards. Given the huge surge in social media use over the past few years, this seems timely: It is an in-depth Australian studythat examines social media's effect on both peer-to-peer communication and the interaction between people and governments.

From the introduction:

Not much is heard of Friendster or MySpace nowadays, but according to research conducted ... in 2012 - Facebook dominates as the most used social networking site, being used by 97% of social networking participants or 6 out of 10 Internet users. This was unchanged in the past year. Facebook is used by more than 95% of social media users from both sexes and at least 93% in all age groups. LinkedIn was the next most popular social media platform, being used by 16% of social networking users, up from 9% last year. Twitter was used by 14% of social networking site users, up from 8% last year, and Google+ was used by 8%.

This represents a massive change in the way people communicate with one another, and with the organisations they interact with, including local government.

The 50% response rate, and the high level of interest in the results of this survey point to a sector already grappling with the implications of social media, and, in many cases, looking for support and direction to fully understand the opportunities offered by social media.

The 33-page study is very readable and informative. Recommended and timely.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its support of techPresident's WeGov section.