Julia Gillard Prime Ministership ended on Wednesday (26/6/13) and it worth looking at the role social media played in her down fall as a lot of people underestimate the power of social media. Looking at all of the evidence there is a strong argument to say that social media played the biggest part in forcing the Labor Party to remove Ms Gillard from office.
If you have heard the quote from Julia Gillard “I was young and naïve” in relation to her involvement in the AWU fraud it is because of social media and if you use social media you would have heard “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead” to the point of driving you insane. I raise these two examples because one started on this site and they are sound bites that have been used on Twitter, Facebook and the comment sections of Blogs non-stop over the last 2 years.
The mainstream media have found it hard to explain why Julia Gillard’s personal unpopularity dragged down the Labor Party vote so much. The answer is social media and its rise and rise in power.
It was not just the mistakes that Julia Gillard made and promises that she back tracked on or lied about. It was the fact that every mistake or lie, real or not, was pounded and pounded on social media 24hours a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year for the entire term of her prime ministership on social media.
What is social media?
Wikipedia describes it as “Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks” and “Social media technologies take on many different forms including magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, social networks, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking” (Click here to read more) It includes everything from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Blogs.
Young and Naïve
Two weeks before the 2007 election Julia Gillard did an interview with News Ltd journalist Glenn Milne in relation to her involvement with her then in the AWU fraud in the 1990’s. One thing she said was that she was “young and naïve”. That is where it stopped until I published a post on the 7th August 2011 and wrote:
Julia Gillard said: “These matters happened between 12 and 15 years ago,” “I was young and naive.” Well Julia Gillard was a partner at the law firm Slater and Gordon and in her mid thirties. Slater and Gordon are not in the habit of appointing young and naive people as partners and being in her mid thirties hardly made her young. (Click here to read the post)
From there social media starting driving the post and quotes from it until the mainstream media picked up on it. One example is a site called Election Now which did a post on the 26/8/11 “Julia Gillard ‘young and naive’ when involved in $1 Million Union fraud case in 2007”. and “UPDATE: Michael Smith of 2UE and Andrew Bolt appear to run with the kangaroocourtofaustralia.” (Click here to read)
The point is for some 4 years from 2007 to 2011 the mainstream media said nothing. It did not take off until I wrote the post and it was driven by people on social media. Because of social media millions of people now know of her “young and naïve” excuse which was ridiculous as well as the broader AWB scandal. It is sound bites like “young and naïve” that can do the most damage to a reputation and drive an issue. Political Parties use sound bites or slogans all the time for good reason.
The above is just one example of the numerous amounts of information on Julia Gillard’s failings that are driven home on social media whether or not the mainstream media do. Only a few years ago there were very few Blogs and no Facebook or Twitter but now they are here they are growing at a rapid pace and there reach and influence is unmatched when enough unite. And unite they did against Julia Gillard.
There are dozens if not hundreds of websites/blogs that specialise in areas such as climate change (Joanne Nova), finance (Barnaby is Right) and this site for example which is judicial corruption. A lot united to some degree in deciding that Julia Gillard and/or the federal Labor Government were a failure. Blogs linked back to each other and picked up on each other’s stories even if the mainstream media did not. It was like a loose coalition with the same cause of holding the government and Julia Gillard to account just in different areas of expertise.
Combine the traffic of all the non-mainstream media Blogs that write about politics and it would be millions of page views per month and then add Facebook and Twitter etc. and you are looking at 20 to 30 million views a month. It is a powerful force when exposing a corrupt government and Prime Minister.
It does not matter who wins the next election whether that be Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott. They will be getting the same treatment as Julia Gillard on social media and will become very unpopular very quickly. One lie here and one failure there and the social media will unload unrelentingly. The problem for someone like Tony Abbott if he becomes Prime Minister is that there is so much entrenched corruption when he takes over he have to deal with it. If Tony Abbott fails to deal with the corruption then he owns it and will be held accountable accordingly on social media.
Julia Gillard has only been gone a few days and it is almost like she was never there as far as the media is concerned and that is because there are bigger issues confronting this country than Ms Gillard now she has gone. If the political parties do not learn from her downfall and the role social media played in it then they will also suffer. There is a new level of accountability driven by social media which grows by the day and the political parties need to get with the picture. Just sending trolls out to dump their political spin in the comment sections of political websites and blogs will not do.
Individually social media users have no power, but combined they have tremendous power that I believe now outweighs the mainstream media. It is as Paul said in the comment section of a recent post about this site “This is the real media, right here. Its time everyone accepted this and stopped looking to the dailys, and the TV News to be informed. Make this site known far and wide. That is how new media works.”
A few posts back someone said in the comment section words to the effect “what are we going to do just sit around and whinge on this site and do nothing” which is a fair comment. But this site and its supporters have played a part in holding Julia Gillard and the government to account which collectively with other social media has helped in Julia Gillard’s downfall, so we have done more than just whinge.
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