Tagged: social media

[Daily Blog reposts] New agency to crack down on cyber-bullying is a lie / is the scariest thing you’ll see today

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 4 April 2013.

So, Judith Collins is going to crack down on cyber-bullying.

Bunji at The Standard identifies this – I think super-correctly – as another distraction tactic, from the Minister who continues to have a reputation as a hardline smacker-down of social naughtiness, despite never actually crushing a single car.  Idiot/Savant notes the unequal treatment cyber-bullying will be getting under law.

And hell, even the Sensible Sentencing Trust thinks it’s a waste of money.

Personally?  I’ve always had issues about the way bullying carried out over scary new technological platforms gets massively over-hyped as though it’s a completely different beast from vile rumours going around the schoolyard, getting smacked around in a locker room, crank-calls or being worked to breaking point by a sociopathic manager.

I get that Cyber-Bullying (TM) has the added impact of lasting on the internet forever and being accessible by literally anyone, but honestly?  I’ve always thought that was just an embarrassment cherry on top of a huge shame-and-ostracisation pie.

What seriously annoys me though is when sentences like this don’t get someone laughed out of Cabinet:

Ms Collins says the proposed new approved agency will help people get the support they need to stop cyber bullying quickly.

It’s like all those Stuff commenters who think we need to issue all beneficiaries with personally-identifiable credit cards which can only be redeemed for state-determined food and services, because they’ve been raised in hermetically-sealed bubbles and don’t understand how administration works, i.e. involves money and people and functioning IT systems (let’s not even go there).

For an agency to be “quick” to respond to cyber-bullying, it has to be staffed to the gills and overpowered to a despotic extent.  Otherwise?

  • Fill in the form.
  • Wait for it to be assessed.
  • Be asked to provide more information.
  • Hope no one emails it to another client.
  • If bullying is found to be occurring, file papers with the hosting agency or ISP.
  • If the bullying’s happening on Facebook and doesn’t involve naked breasts, don’t hold your breath.
  • Eventually, the first post might get taken down, after being seen by all the people you care about – i.e. your schoolmates – and probably retweeted and shared and mirrored Gods know where else.

It’s either completely unrealistic or completely terrifying to talk about a government agency which can “quickly” combat anything happening online, where the situation changes by the minute.  Where most of the damage – like with most bullying – is done with the first blow, the first post, the first time you realise anyone could have seen it.

For it to work, you’d have to build a secure bunker of nerds empowered to hack into literally every site and domain on the internet and delete stuff at the merest hint of complaint in an email.  Which is seriously scary, and also totally unworkable, because who heard about this and didn’t immediately assume there’d be a tsunami of vexatious complaints?

But it fits a really comfy narrative for a media who still buy into the idea that Judith Collins is a powerful decisive getting-things-done politician and who also don’t really understand social media, or – given how many I saw today annoyed bemused bolshy snarky that the State Services Commission dared to declare a press conference Twitter-free – assume that their audience don’t.


And a tiny note to the Labour Party:  just let Andrew Little front this issue, okay?  I don’t think we really want the risk involved in having Clare Curran talking about cyber-bullying.  Clare Curran who allegedly (wouldn’t want to post anything knowingly false, now) petitioned the Labour Party Council to demand the outing and censure of Labour Party members who criticise her The Party on blogs.

[Daily Blog reposts] The future of politics – when you’re living in the future

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 14 March 2013.

I’m writing this post as I groove along to the dulcet tones of Parliament TV streaming live (yay for living in the future), awaiting the second reading of the Marriage Equality Bill.

The Twitter feed is buzzing (except for those poor souls who had to trade their smartphones for the sheer awesomeness of being there in person).  Facebook has been positively spammy with the weight of updates from people urging their online friends to email their MPs and like this page and watch this video (and defriend the bigots who you only friended because you were at school together.)

This is the future of political conversation.  And as Bomber’s post on Facebook proportionality shows, some parties are a lot more prepared for it than others.

Labour tries – bless them – but their website design is horrible, their blog is dire, and their Twitter engagement runs the full spectrum from robotic to trolly.

The Greens obviously do a lot better.  They just seem to get it, and I’m desperately trying not to draw any conclusions about the demographics involved because then I get accused of hating old white men again.

National?  A few shining examples, at least of MPs (e.g. Tau Henare) who are completely willing to embrace new media and run with it, but otherwise still paddling around watching the social media wave go past them, happy to catch it the next time around.

But what does it mean?  When people aren’t buying newspapers, aren’t watching the ads on the telly (if they’re watching the telly at all), when a lot of people prefer to let their friends and favourite celebrities filter the news of the day for them?  The parties who are there already, and who get it, and who know how to get their messages across and be part of a real conversation without sounding fake are going to get the job done.

Since you’re reading a blog right now, I’m going to assume you’re part of the internet-savvy population.  So compare how you feel knowing Katrina Shanks declared that “filesharing is actually an illegal activity” (yes, ALL filesharing) in the House, with the Green Party kicking off a campaign to protect our beaches by inciting a little online rivalry.  Or, notwithstanding the fact you may feel the same way about Reddit that I do, Gareth Hughes running an Ask Me Anything thread.

Two of those things are examples of finding ways to use online communication to interest people, especially young people,  and make them feel that they’re playing a part (even if it’s just a cute little gesture of parochialism.)

One of those things is a guaranteed way to make most people who understand Teh Interwebz think twice about voting for a party which would let you be in charge of anything technical (see also: Clare Curran.)

Social media almost certainly won’t be the one big decisive factor of Election 2014, or even 2017.  But it’s also not a passing fad which parties can get away with ignoring.

Might I cheekily suggest they start by realising that we bloggers aren’t all a bunch of “anonymous” people “behind darkened curtains”?

Don’t forget – #voteWTF tomorrow at 8:30pm, TV3

A few of my closest pseudonymous Twitter pals and I will be live-tweeting TV3’s The Vote, asking hard questions like “can’t we just keep bashing parents and ignoring the shitty situations they’re living in due to ongoing neoliberal economic fuckups?”

Tune it to #voteWTF tomorrow night for good wholesome rage.  Warning:  contains Bob McCoskrie.

#voteWTF – Wednesday 19 June, 8:30pm, TV3

On this coming Wednesday’s episode of The Vote – our monthly break from the awfulness that I hear is 3rd Degree – a very angry-making important moot is to be discussed:

Our kids – The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting. Do you agree?

I first heard of this on Twitter, was informed of this, and the fact that one of the “debaters” is to be Bob McCoskrie, on Twitter.  Then I visited the webpage for the show and found out who the rest of the debaters are.  On the side of “shitting on poor people”:

  • Bob McCoskrie
  • Hannah Tamaki
  • Christine Rankin

On the side of “acknowledging that poverty is a thing”

  • Celia Lashlie
  • Dr Russell Wills
  • Hone Harawira

Oh my god.  This is going to be a fucking trainwreck punctuated with occasional moments of beautiful Hone smackdown.  This totally calls for live-tweeting.

If you’re not already hanging on my every word on the Twitterz, you can follow #voteWTF.  I cannot promise lulz.  Only capslock.

(And if my usual Twitter account gets blocked for excessive tweeting, catch me on my jail account.)

If you want to do some homework before the debate, I recommend r0b’s Poverty Watch posts at The Standard.

Labour Conference 2012: how is social media formed?

So, in an effort to make a post not calling for the head of David Shearer, I decided to take a look at the Labour Party’s conference webpages.

And oh boy are they a treat.

I’ve blogged before about Labour’s (or at least, Shearer’s office’s) poor grasp of social media, but whole new levels of “what r u doin” have been reached with this one.

The good:  pre-empt discussion with a hashtag like #Labour2012 so the discussion can be monitored/participated in widely.

The bad:  try to lay down rules about how people get to use their own personal Twitter accounts.

No, I’m deadly (depressedly) serious:

We encourage you to participate in the discussion on social media, and share your thoughts, photos and experiences online.

Labour looks forward to robust conversations on social media, but respectfully draws attention to the Comment Participation Policy that guides our engagement online.

– Stick to the topic. This will help the online discussion to flow and be more interesting, allowing ideas to develop in a useful way.
– Be Respectful. Profanities, name calling, personal attacks on fellow supporters, politicians or public figures are prohibited.
– No junk mail. No advertising or promoting products or repeatedly posting the same point.
– Have fun! Share your photos, experiences and the exciting ideas that are being discussed.

My urge to jump on Twitter right now and just tweet “FUCK FUCKITY FUCK FUCK FUCK #Labour2012” is strong, friends.

Um, Labour?  Your social media team … they do know how social media works, right?  They’re not just jumping on some “Barack Obama totes used social media so that makes it cool!” bandwagon, please God?

Sure, you aren’t going to respond to random abuse (unless Cameron Slater asks Clare Curran to guest-post again).  You aren’t going to retweet vicious personal attacks.  You reserve the right to block trolls.

But you don’t actually get to fucking tell other people what they may or may not tweet on “your” hashtag.  You don’t get to act like you have some kind of authority over other people’s participation in social media.

You do get to lay down the law on some sites, i.e. what people can and can’t say on your own Facebook page, but … that’s a bit different from “social media” as a whole.

Gods, what am I doing?  I’m trying to educate people who refer to tweets as

‘Live Tweets’

and expect conference attendees to charge the venue’s WiFi to their credit cards for fuck’s sake.

Quickhit: please get the politicians off Twitter

New Rule for specifically-Labour types:  when I, Scott Yorke, and Danyl McLauchlan are eyerolling at your latest kinghit, it’s probably more of a pawntap.

Anyway, don’t start me on the week I’ve been having, read those dudes’ takes on the whole thing instead:

Imperator Fish (when he’s right, he’s right):

The insinuation that John Key cares enough about Twitter to bother to buy followers, put out there without any evidence whatsoever, is ridiculous. It’s also embarrassing to those Labour followers who give a damn about the more important issues, like asset sales, education, jobs, and growing the economy.


You really need to compare the PM to people like [Piri Weepu, who has 52,000 Twitter followers], or other heads of state. Although there’s still a control problem – how do we know that Piri Weepu hasn’t paid money for Twitter followers???

And when Matthew Hooton (first comment on DP post) is so amazed at your lack of smarts that he even forgets to post a trollish “no way, I think this is a totally great move for Labour” comment?  You’re definitely in trouble.

Related reading.

Shambles III: This time it’s Twitter

Despite my recent posts lambasting the man’s speechcraft, I don’t have anything personal against David Shearer.  I’m sure he’s lovely (I’ve met few politicians who weren’t charming/charismatic/friendly in person, across the spectrum*) I’m hopeful he’s passionate and really cares …

I’m not sure about the cyborg personality he occasionally lets log in to his Twitter account, though.

You see, I have a theory about political/celebrity Twitter accounts.  A lot of the received wisdom is that you have to be genuine, casual, upfront, etc etc on Twitter, and that certainly works for a lot of people (there’s no denying  Trevor Mallard is running his own account; that may not be the best thing but at least it’s genuine).

But I think the Twitter audience can also appreciate that some people – like the Prime Minister – are really a little too busy to be constantly checking their phones.  We hope.  And aren’t really of a generation who we assume are incredibly tech-savvy, or necessarily comfortable with the speed and informality of social media.  So we don’t feel particularly galled that @johnkeypm is pretty obviously run out of level 9 of the Beehive, nor that @philgoffmp was likewise for the 3rd floor of Parliament House (the obvious evidence being its complete silence since he stepped down).

The problem with @davidshearermp is that it’s neither one nor the other.  So you get jarring shifts between snappy little comments about John Banks one day to empty, boring, focus-grouped, written-by-committee, not-actually-engaging-in-conversation key messages which break the cardinal rule of Twitter (it’s not called micro-blogging for no good reason, people) and expect people to sit around watching their feeds fill up with all-David-Shearer, all-the-time platitudes and presumably retweet the bits they find least soulless.

And don’t forget that classy NooNoo Zealand hashtag!

It’s consistency, it’s micro-blogging, it’s Marbo, it’s the vibe.  And Shearer – or at least the shiny red automatons who occasionally seize control of his brain and typing fingers – ain’t got it Twitter-wise.


*Notable exceptions: Coddington, Brownlee, Shane Jones

I love social media fail: English Defence League edition

Linked from a comment on The Standard in an explodey thread which I have declared anathema:

Tommy Robinson took a few seconds on Sunday evening to make an observation about Twitter’s homepage. “Welcome to twitter homepage has a picture of a mosque,” he wrote. “What a joke #creepingsharia.” Of course, Tommy isn’t just any old tweeter, but the co-founder of the English Defence League, a far-right protest group. Tweet posted, Robinson no doubt wandered off to do other Sunday evening things; maybe plan a rally or two.

Tommy forgot three very important lessons:

  • Twitter is full of liberal pranksters
  • Some of them will follow racist wankers like you just for lulz
  • Hashtags allow them to gather all their mockery of you in one place

Given all that, it might be advisable in future not to set the stage for them.

See the original article for some utterly splendid responses to Tommy’s silly little hate-moment.  I’m particularly a fan of:

Alcohol is not available at my children’s primary school #creepingsharia

Bugger our electoral laws

No blogs I read allowed political comments yesterday, because our electoral law is an outdated piece of crap which probably served us OK in the days when “political statements” were restricted to newspaper editorials and hoardings.

These days?  Sorry, everyone, I think it’s just bloody demeaning to everyone’s intelligence for the Electoral Commission to pretend that if I refrain from saying “VOTE LEFT YOU BASTARDS” on 26 November, you will somehow all not remember all the pro-left posts I have made in the lead-up to this election, or not know who DPF/lprent/Lew/Danyl are hoping will get the victory when they say “get the vote out”.

(They, like me, may very well truly believe that democracy is best served by a high turnout, no matter who that vote supports; but we all still have our obvious biases.)

It’s especially bullshit when our media, who cannot ask political questions of politicians on election day (and those politicians cannot make political statements themselves) still follow John Key to the polling booth (not in his own electorate, of course) asking questions like “what are your dinner plans” …

When everyone, left and right, who comments on politics knows full fucking well that John Key presenting himself as Nice Guy Who Has Pizza And Beer On A Saturday Night is a political statement, and is designed to influence people’s votes, and is probably a lot more effective than the scandalous idea that Phil Goff (special voting in his electorate which he doesn’t live in either) might say “Yeah, I voted Labour today.”

And yes, I very much appreciate the fact that people should be able to go and vote without getting spammed, harassed, having political advertising drilled into their heads.

But making social media users tweeting to their 20 friends “Just voted Mana/ACT/Greens/ALCP! Woo!” criminals while mainstream media with audiences of hundreds of thousands get off scot-free continuing to push political-advertising-via-personality-facades, just because our law wants to treat us like we don’t know when we’re being advertised to, or won’t be affected by an advertisement unless it includes the words “vote”, “choose”, or “tick”, pisses me off.