Playing Farmville? Social networking workshop
Photo: Eli Mendelbaum

MKs study social networking

Knesset workshop aims to make politicians aware of Facebook's power, but low turnout shows MKs won't be competing for 'likes' anytime soon

While politicians around the world have turned Facebook, Twitter and YouTube into yet another platform, most Knesset members still view social networking as an intimidating concept. A workshop designed to make MKs more comfortable with the worldwide web was held at the Knesset on Tuesday.


Only 10 MKs showed up for the class, some of whom are already quite active online; MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi), who has an active Facebook page and a personal website, was in attendance, as well as MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu), who has many fan pages. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and MK Ilan Ghilon (Meretz), each of whom has a modest fan page, also took part in the workshop.


Most notable among those not in attendance were MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) and MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), both of whom have personal Facebook accounts where they discuss policy issues and address the public's questions.


The politicians received short explanations of different web features, and were warned against the danger of online identity theft.


'3 million voters are online'

Shlomit Habaron, the government website's content expert, led the workshop. She told Ynet that there are 4.5 million households with internet access in Israel, 3 million of which have at least one Facebook account – making the network an important tool for politicians.


Habaron also noted that direct communication with the public online can make the politicians more aware of what is going on with the people who elect them.


"The social network gets rid of the middleman – the journalist or the media consultant aren't there – so what you want to say will reach the public," she told the MKs, some of whom showed interest in her presentation while the others used the time to toy with their iPhones.


MK Robert Tibayev (Kadima), who initiated the idea of the workshop, equated social networking to making pre-election public appearances. But the modest turnout at the workshop attests that most of the elected officials tend to ignore new media.


If more politicians realize that 3 million voters are waiting to hear what they have to say on Facebook, they might start competing for 'likes' before then next elections. After all, it is only fair that the same voters have a chance to appeal to their representatives in person.



פרסום ראשון: 01.06.11, 15:07
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