Social Media and Government Mixed

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Ever wonder what ‘s it like working for the government? How much do they shift towards this digital era? How can social media play a part in governmental relations? There may be a range of views depending on what a person thinks about this. But the most important thing is that we understand how a tool such as social media is being used everywhere, even our very own governments.

We are all aware of what and how social media goes about every day and it’s influences whether positive or negative on the people. But do we actually need social media to be involved in the government? Now this is a million dollar question! Let me share with you a how government from my very own country utilizes social media.

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Micronesia is an island nation and of course not everyone has got a fancy gadget or internet access at home. The most popular form of government communication towards the people is of course local radio channels and newspapers. So we are kind of old-fashioned. However, recently changes were made and now social media is part of the picture. Basically, important relations such as our economic funding, governor’s latest signed agreements, implementations to existing state laws, and upcoming legislator’s meetings for the general public. As an example, government branches such as immigration, legislator, state auditors, etc have their own Facebook pages so whenever something happens that involves the office, postings were put online and about 40% of the public gets informed while the other 60% is through radio and newspapers. Using social media speeds up the time to spread important news throughout the state and citizens abroad. In a way, social media is improving the ways that the government communicates with its people.

One other example I came across here in New Zealand is how the immigration office uses social media to help determine whether a person is eligible to obtain a visa to travel to New Zealand  or not. So aside from all the information provided in applications and interviews, the immigration people also look at other sources to make sure that you are who you say you are and whether you are the right person to travel to New Zealand.

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So obviously, there are some good governmental approaches towards social media. But what are the downsides? We know that governments deal with sensitive information and sharing with the wrong person can be catastrophic. There is a “need to know” basis that is not possible to enforce when social media is involved. Simple news posts can be manipulated and be turned against the government itself.

As for my own opinion, I think that it’s good to implement social media into the government. Of course there may be some precautions needed by it is part of taking risks in transitioning into the digital world. Some people might disagree, but I do believe it is possible and can be a gateway to future government relations. With social media, we have the opportunity, the capability, transparency, accountability, and most importantly, increased participation among a nation’s citizens through online collaborations.

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