The way that internet content is created and used has changed; in the past websites were static and users were limited to the passive viewing of content but today we are able to interact and collaborate with each other as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community – sometimes referred to as Web 2.0.
Social media have played a huge part in this and, looking back over recent news I’m struck by how many stories concern, or are shaped by, social media. For example:
- Gabby shames Twitter sexist
- Twitter changes rules to ban ‘revenge porn’
- Facebook removes the ‘feeling fat’ status update, replacing it with ‘stuffed’
- Pupils to be taught about how to deal with dangers of sexting, revenge porn and cyber-bullying
- Facebook restricts violent video clips and photos
- Facebook revamps its takedown guidelines
Some of these stories illustrate the challenge of dealing with this brave, new, interactive world. However social media have also brought us exciting new opportunities.
Social media are expected to be more important than ever in the general election campaign and they provide us with opportunities to enter into direct dialogue with the candidates who wish to represent us and participate in political debate.
Politicians, local and national media are increasingly using social media to gauge public opinion so it’s an ideal opportunity to make your views part of a wider conversation.
If you are a Twitter user you could follow your candidate and ask them about the issues which are important to you. You can also use Twitter to engage in political debate in both regional and national media.
Many candidates are also on Facebook and asking questions via a candidate's Facebook page can result in a more immediate response than email or post and also allow a longer conversation to develop.
If you’re not a social media user and would like to engage with your local candidates in advance of this election why not create an account – you need only use it for the general election period if you wish.
You can find out who your candidates are and whether they are on Twitter or Facebook here.
We included a list of questions you might like to ask candidates in our most recent newsletter which you can see here.