Sunday, February 20, 2011

Government & Social Media

For the past few years, The Singapore Government has been trying to get on social media. However, they do not welcome feedback and censor comments.

“The Singapore government, as a whole, is not averse to using new media. We’re not ruling out the opportunities it presents us. But we’re not completely sure how to use it yet.”

– Goh Yam Song, Deputy Director, Emergency Preparedness, Land Transport Authority, Singapore –

Even when more ministers are getting on social media, I still feel that they don't get it.

A Facebook user, Abdul Malik Ghazali, was arrested few weeks ago on charges related to incitement of violence due to comments he made on Facebook. The 27-year-old had urged other users on the social networking site to “burn” Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for community development, youth and sports.

Does he sound serious or frustrated?

On Facebook, even Singapore's Broadcast Media -- Mediacorp is on Facebook, but they do not invite any comments, and they only allow comments on the posts they make. Furthermore, active moderation is also seen.

I feel that if any nation, company or individuals is interested in Social Media, they need to be prepared to engage -- accept both positive and negative feedback, and willingly resolve the issues transparently.

With the coming elections, there are more ministers with blogs and Facebook pages, but the engagement is heavily moderated, and they types of posts does not seem genuine and engaging as well.

A good example is a Facebook Page -- Ang Mo Kio - Yio Chu Kang

It was originally started by the government, heavily moderated, and eventually nobody cared. It now serves as a page where people complain and nothing seems to be resolved.

I hope things change as social media can be a cheap and effective way to engage with the public, and together, we can shape the country together. The government should be inclusive and the public, empowered to share their ideas and comments freely.

-- Robin Low

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