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Where’s your online face?
European leaders need to leverage social media in these difficult times when economic crises are spiralling into political catastrophes
Issue Date - 08/12/2011
One of the most stirring debates about social media today is related to the manner in which it can fuel, sustain and support political revolutions. This is aptly visible considering the role played by Facebook and Twitter in the revolts that unfolded in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Social media’s impact has been visible across borders. Many Eurozone nations are confronting political changes with the influence of social networking sites as the “economic crisis” metamorphoses into a “political crisis” there.

Over the painful past few months, bailout plans and austerity measures failed to alleviate the debt deficit in Greece and Italy. Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s appeals on Twitter, like the one that said, “All should bear a part of the burden, including banks”, did not work. Instead, many people have started believing that changes in the political leadership can lead to a solution. Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Italy have witnessed their governments falling. While the Irish and Portuguese transitions were driven by the will of the people, the Greek and Italian PMs were forced to resign. Experienced technocrats Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti have been appointed as temporary prime ministers in Greece and Italy respectively. Impact of social media can not be ignored over these political transitions.

Still, impacts of social media are different across nations. They have worked completely against rulers in Middle East and North African countries. In contrast, American politicians have used them very effectively for several campaigns. Barack Obama’s path breaking use of Twitter@Townhall is the most popular. But European politicians are still testing the waters. In crisis times like these, they would do well to jump right in!



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