The other day Jeremy wrote a post pointing out the difficulties for public officials trying to get into social media. He said:
Whilst it is easy to see the benefits of closer dialogue between civil servants and interested individuals conceptually, there is understandable nervousness about the reality this might create. Top of the concern is loss of control of the corporate message, but this isn’t unique to government. Is it possible for large organisations to engage in the social media space? Increasingly I think the answer might be ‘no’.
Much of the discussion that followed tried to set out counter arguments, my contribution included. I said:
The things is that these conversations about tricky policy areas are already happening out here on the net. And by not exploring ways for government to engage the space is left for interest groups to interpret and spin what government are up to.
I understand the reluctance to put every idea out onto the web, the fear of stray thoughts coming back to bite us is every bit as strong this side of the line as on yours. But maybe there are ways around it.
But what we hadn’t figured on was how conversations are taken out of context, spun and distorted by others with an axe to grind.
Don’t believe me?
I think the Daily Mail have just killed the idea that there could be a on-line discussion with civil servants beyond the driest of consultation exercises. And beyond that they’ve put us all on notice that what we write here in the ‘sphere can and will be used to smear us should it suit their purposes.