Tony Abbott

Inappropriate tweet about Australian Prime Minister aired on live TV

The Prime Minister of Australia is Tony Abbott.  Unfortunately, his name began trending on Twitter in a most inappropriate way, after the follow tweet was aired on an Australian show while political analyst Annabel Crabb was talking:

Abbott Loves A

Yeah…that’s a pretty big “whoops.”

The station, via a spokesman, said that they, “regrets any offence this may have caused” and that “this particular tweet was not published on purpose.”  The station manager also apologized personally to Prime Minister Abbott, via a text message, and will issues a formal letter of apology.

As you can imagine, the Prime Minister was none too pleased with the blooper:

“I just hope that the ABC management get on and do what they said they were going to do with that program. I think it is a bit out of control and I think it’s important for the ABC not just to talk about tighter management structures … but actually do it.”

It’s the second time in three months that the station has faced controversy: In June, they allowed a man named Zaky Mallah, who had previously been tried (and acquitted) of terrorism charges, to sit in their audience and speak during a Q&A program.

This obviously was a media blooper but it pertains to politicians so I thought it was worth mentioning.  Is there anything a politician can do to prevent this kind of weird social media assault?  Of course not.  Unfortunately, it comes with the territory.  That being said, the media does have an obligation to prevent these kinds of errors, and hopefully something like this won’t happen again.

2016 Republican Presidential candidates.

Republican Presidential candidates, by the numbers, on Twitter

Last week, I ran a blog entry which tracked how the 17 Republican candidates for President were doing in terms of Facebook likes.  As promised, here’s the same data, but with Twitter:

Name URL Followers Poll
Donald Trump https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump 3950000 23.5%
Marco Rubio https://twitter.com/marcorubio 828000 7.3%
Rand Paul https://twitter.com/RandPaul 674000 3.8%
Ben Carson https://twitter.com/RealBenCarson 526000 10.3%
Ted Cruz https://twitter.com/tedcruz 482000 7.3%
Carly Fiorina https://twitter.com/CarlyFiorina 467000 6.0%
Mike Huckabee https://twitter.com/GovMikeHuckabee 396000 4.0%
Rick Perry https://twitter.com/GovernorPerry 315000 1.3%
Jeb Bush https://twitter.com/JebBush 279000 9.8%
Rick Santorum https://twitter.com/RickSantorum 241000 1.0%
Bobby Jindal https://twitter.com/BobbyJindal 211000 0.5%
Scott Walker https://twitter.com/ScottWalker 197000 7.3%
John Kasich https://twitter.com/JohnKasich 100000 4.5%
George Pataki https://twitter.com/GovernorPataki 46900
Chris Christie https://twitter.com/ChrisChristie 43600 3.5%
Lindsey Graham https://twitter.com/LindseyGrahamSC 24800 0.3%
Jim Gilmore https://twitter.com/gov_gilmore 1130

A few observations:

  • First, I’m sure you noticed the round numbers.  Exact numbers aren’t displayed on a Twitter page, so this is the best I was able to put together.
  • Like in the polls, Donald Trump is absolutely crushing his rivals.
  • It’s interesting to see the lack of correlation between Twitter followers and poll success in some cases.  Rand Paul is a great example.  This is probably more telling of the disconnect between passionate supporters on and the rest of the ideological spectrum.
  • Some of the cover photos used on the page were particularly terrible.  See Senator Graham and Governor Christie’s pages for great examples.  Awkward pictures or low resolution were the real issues.  You guys are running for President.  Take a nice picture.
  • Governor Jim Gilmore’s page is unverified and hasn’t been updated since August 22 (at least as I type this entry, which is 8/29).

Tweets and Consequences

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ashley madison

Why everyone – public life or not – should be worried about the Ashley Madison hack

The Ashley Madison hack has exposed a great deal of public people as hypocrites or philanderers.  Among those whose Email addresses have been found include Josh Duggar (one of the Duggar children who also admitted to sexually molesting others), Sam Rader (Christian vlogger), Jeff Ashton (prosecutor during the Casey Antony case) and more.  As such, you would think that the hack would make for ripe material for this blog, which deals with the digital disasters of public officials and employees.

I’d actually like to take a different tact and discuss the broader implications of this hack.

Everyone should be nervous about this hack, regardless of whether or not you ever used the site, because it helped to prove a fundamental truth: digital security isn’t truly a thing.  The Ashley Madison hack is the latest in a series of data hackings, which occur in all walks of life, including the federal government and the IRS.  We live in a frightening society right now, because our data isn’t truly safe.

I have an even more frightening question for you: What’s next?  Supposedly private information is now publicly searchable.  What will be publicly viewable next?  Your search engine history?  Things you’ve looked at while your browser is in incognito mode?  And how far back will these hacks go?  Will things that you did, digitally, decades ago, be used against you in a court of law or public opinion?  Texts you made?  Where will the lines be drawn?

I wrote, earlier this week, about a woman who was forced to withdraw her candidacy for public office after tweets she made four years ago went public.  The tweets were, unquestionably, tactless and offensive.  That being said, they were made when the young woman was 17.  Who among us would like every note, text or comment we said at the age of 17 to be made public?  Where do we decide what’s okay, and what’s not?

Personally, I don’t really care who uses Ashley Madison, public life or not.  It’s someone’s own private business, and unless they are using government equipment, I don’t think it’s any business of mine, or anyone else’s.  Unfortunately, that’s one of the great truths of the digital age: Anything can become everyone’s business.

Tweets and Consequences

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Social Media growth

New Pew report looks at social media demographics among Americans

A new Pew report is out; the report takes a look at social media use in America.  It’s findings, as always, help to illuminate the state of social media.

I would highly recommend that you check out the entire report, but from my perspective at least, here are the major findings and insights:

  • Messaging Apps are growingwith 36% of all smartphone users using such an app, and 17% using an app which automatically deletes a message.  Users of these apps tend to be younger than 29, college educated and live in an urban area.
  • Facebook growth has slowed, but that’s largely a result of it having less room to grow.  Pinterest and Instagram continue to grow at high rates; Twitter’s growth has completely plateaued, and LinkedIn has actually shrunk….?
  • In terms of demographics of specific platforms:
    • Facebook is more popular among women than men.  Users are also young and have high levels of income.
    • Pinterest has the highest gender disparity of all networks (44% of women vs. 16% of men).  It’s users are young, less wealthy than Facebook and more suburban/rural than urban.
    • Instagram is the most popular network for racial minorities.  It’s users are overwhelmingly young.
    • LinkedIn has a strikingly even gender ratio, older users, and the most educated and wealthiest user base.
    • Twitter users are relatively even across important demographic variables, except for geographic location, which skew urban.
  • In terms of frequency of use, Facebook does the best, followed by Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

What does this say about the current state of social media?  A few things:

  • Messaging apps are here to stay and should be used accordingly.
  • Serious demographic disparities exist between all platforms, and your social media use should be tailored accordingly.
  • Facebook is still the undisputed king.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

MarkLatham

Former Australian politician nailed for maintaining offensive anonymous Twitter account, forced to resign from job

This is a fascinating one, and even further proof that nothing which happens on the internet is truly anonymous.

Mark Latham was once a highly quotable, combustible member of the Australian parliament who was, at one point, thought of as a likely candidate for Prime Minister.  Poor internal relations with his own party and ill health forced him out of politics, but he landed on his feet, writing a regular column for the Australian Financial Review.

Until recently.  As noted by this highly comprehensive article in Social Media Today, last December, a Twitter account called RealMarkLatham began tweeting offensive things about Australian politicians:

RealMarkLatham

Okay, fine, whatever, right?  Offensive parody accounts like this spring up all the time.  Well, a BuzzFeed investigation confirmed that this Twitter account was, in fact, maintained by the real Mark Latham.

In the aftermath of the news, Latham resigned as a columnist with AFR.

So, what’s the lesson here?  That much is obvious: on the Internet, nothing…nothing…is truly anonymous, and attempting to be anonymous will likely get you caught quicker than you care to think about.  If you lead a public life (really, if you lead any kind of life at all), it’s best to not attempt to pull one of these anonymous stunts, because odds are greater than not that you will get busted.

2016 Republican Presidential candidates.

Republican Presidential Candidates – by the likes

Based on a blog comment I got last week, I decided to re-run this blog entry, but updated for current numbers: a look at the Republican 2016 Presidential candidates, sorted by likes, as well as compared to national poll numbers.  Here’s what we got, as of 8/22/15, with polling data coming from the Real Clear Politics average:

Name URL Likes Poll
Donald Trump https://www.facebook.com/DonaldTrump?fref=ts 3252785 22.0%
Ben Carson https://www.facebook.com/realbencarson?fref=ts 2402265 9.7%
Rand Paul https://www.facebook.com/RandPaul?fref=ts 2060219 4.3%
Mike Huckabee https://www.facebook.com/mikehuckabee?fref=ts 1827106 4.3%
Ted Cruz https://www.facebook.com/tedcruzpage?fref=ts 1382259 7.3%
Rick Perry https://www.facebook.com/GovernorPerry?fref=ts 1208956 1.3%
Marco Rubio https://www.facebook.com/MarcoRubio?fref=ts 977084 7.3%
Scott Walker https://www.facebook.com/scottkwalker?fref=ts 359003 7.7%
Carly Fiorina https://www.facebook.com/CarlyFiorina?fref=ts 278647 6.3%
Bobby Jindal https://www.facebook.com/bobbyjindal?fref=ts 277298 0.7%
Rick Santorum https://www.facebook.com/RickSantorum?fref=ts 264786 1.0%
Jeb Bush https://www.facebook.com/jebbush?fref=ts 250367 10.7%
John Kasich https://www.facebook.com/JohnKasich?fref=ts 137944 4.3%
Lindsey Graham https://www.facebook.com/LindseyGrahamSC?fref=ts 129926 0.3%
Chris Christie https://www.facebook.com/govchristie?fref=ts 118831 3.3%
George Pataki https://www.facebook.com/GovGeorgePataki?fref=ts 18324
Jim Gilmore ?? ??

So, what conclusions can you draw from this chart?

  • First, I’d argue that the “establishment” candidates are not doing well in polls or likes.  The top liked candidates are either non-politicians or the anti-establishment type.
  • Generally speaking, there’s some sort of correlation between likes and poll position.  The one exception is Jeb Bush.
  • Time in office/public eye doesn’t necessarily correlate with ranking of likes: See George Pataki and Lindsey Graham.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

Ala Buzreba

Canadian candidate forced to withdraw after offensive tweets surface

Ala Buzreba was a candidate for office in Calgary Nose Hill, a federal election district in Canada, running under the Liberal Party banner.  However, she was just forced to end her run after tweets which she sent in 2011 (when she was 17) surfaced:

Buzreba apologized for the comments:

This is an interesting story, and a depressing one.  Why depressing?  Let me start my analysis of this by taking Buzreba at her word: the tweets she made were reflective of who she was as a person four years ago, and not who she is today.  If you assume that this is the case, my goodness, this is depressing.  Who among us hasn’t grown over the course of a four year period?  Would you really want to be judged today based on some of your worst moments at the age of 17?  I certainly wouldn’t.

And this, truly, is the danger of social media.  Every young person thinks, says and does stupid things, but thanks to the wonders of social media, that stupidity is forever digitally enshrined.  Ms. Buzreba will now always be remembered, and known, for dumb crap she said as a teenager, and that’s just not fair.

Two points to this.  First: we, as a society, simply must be better at forgiving the mistakes that young people make on social media.  An adult doing something is one thing, but a 17 year old?  Come on.

Second, schools will need to be more aggressive in teaching teenagers to be more careful with the digital footprint that they leave.  I’m not sure how much education can truly help, but it is a conversation which simply must be broached, given the prevalence of social media and the fact that a mistake can, quite literally, last forever.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.