Social media can be a powerful tool to influence policy and people: Ardern

According to Labour List MP Jacinda Ardern social media has enabled the public to respond faster to any changes, and this can influence and change public policy in the short and long term.

"What change does social media make in the traditional policy making process? Absolutely none. The fundamentals of policy making has remained predominantly the same and old school mechanisms still contribute to policy development within the Labour Party.

"There is a gap in policy development, but this is not the case when it comes to policy correction or response," said Jacinda Ardern, a Labour List MP based in Auckland Central. She was speaking at The Project: Digital Disruption conference taking place today at Auckland.

Focusing on the role of social media in public debate and policy, Ardern emphasised that social media has enabled the public to respond faster to any changes, and this can influence and change public policy in the short and long term.

"With social media, the public has been given a mechanism to share messages instantly and influence us. Every tweet and Facebook message comes up on my phone. It is the same to me as a text message. Imagine the power of getting the same text 200 times, or 500 times.

That is powerful, and that power lies with the public. We are not using it enough now but ultimately it could change the way we conduct politics," said Ardern.

Referring back to the election in 2011, Ardern pointed out that while 69 per cent of Kiwis turned out to cast the vote, this indicated a fall of 6 per cent from 2008. Some of the prime reasons people gave for choosing to stay away was that they did not trust politicians (33 per cent), it was obvious who would win (31 per cent) and they were just not interested (29 per cent).

According to Ardern, social media can be used by politicians to engage with people and ultimately have them turning up to vote in larger numbers.

"So why are MPs online? Because we might look like human beings by doing social media. Social media is a tool to show we are regular Joes. It is also a way to communicate directly with the public, instead of relying on traditional media to pass messages through.

"People get to know us through the forum, even as they get the ability to influence us and policy making," said Ardern.

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Ardern's session was just one at The Project conference, which focuses on how digital disruption is changing the way we live and work and how organisations are leveraging the opportunities created by digital disruption to transform their businesses.

The two-day event has both international and local speakers, and covers a wide area of digitisation from consumers and gamers, to businesses and government.

Send news tips and comments to sathya_ashok@idg.co.nz

Follow Sathya Mithra Ashok on Twitter: @sathyamithraa

Follow Computerworld New Zealand on Twitter:@computerworldnz

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Tags Labour partylabour MPThe pojectsocial mediagovernmentJacinda ArdernThe project digital disruption

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