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Public Politician Profiles on Facebook and the Gap of Authenticity

  1. 1. Public Politician Profiles on Facebook and the gap of ‘Authenticity’ - Initial Evaluation Results of the EU Project Where eGovernment meets the eSociety - Timo Wandhoefer & Mark Thamm GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences IFIP e-government conference 2011, EGOV2011, Delft August 28 – September 2, 2011
  2. 2. Background WeGov - Where eGovernment meets the eSociety • Research project for developing a toolbox -> Enriching the online dialogue of citizens and politics on the web • SEVENTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME THEME ICT 2009.7.3 ICT for Governance and Policy Modelling • 4 technical and 3 use case partner • Month 20/30
  3. 3. Graphical Outline
  4. 4. WeGov Approach Nuclear phase-out Climate friendly Bridging-technology
  5. 5. Status-Quo • Use cases for citizen<=>politics dialogue [1] • Legal and ethical analysis [2] • Basic functionality extracted [3] • First prototype running a basic scenario [4] • Discussion at German Parliament [5] • Scenario modification – „citations‟ [6] • Initial toolbox evaluation 
  6. 6. Semi-Structured Interview 20-30 minutes... Information behaviour • Patterns to adopt for analysis tools? Press work? Public relations? Social Networking Sites vs. eParticipation platforms • Different kinds of approaches, eParticipation, open government Scenario „Testing one Statement“ • Post statement on Facebook • Monitor feedback Use of Social Networking Sites Scenario „Quick Questionnaire“
  7. 7. 16 Interview Participants German Parliamentary Party (1 office) Federal Parliament Germany (1 MP) German Parliament (11 MP offices) EU Parliament (3 MPs) By WeGov partner Gov2u
  8. 8. Interview Results - WeGov initial Toolbox -
  9. 9. Information Behaviour Information service Bundestag (-> Platform press) • Topic extraction -> abstract-> full text • Individual search profile Scientific services (-> Platform science) • Expert search Social Networking Sites (-> Platform social media) • Searching manually & non-systematic – Example: Maintain Facebook page / profiles, Find special interest groups, Tweet opponent…
  10. 10. Social Networking Sites vs. eParticipation Platforms Prospects • „Image of the society‟ => Starting a dialogue • Making politics „where people are‟ eParticipation via - PRO: Social Networking Sites (WeGov) - CON: Platforms (e.g. Challenges • Less comments on „non polarising‟ statements • The more politically the content the more comments are from experts • Less control over content / Image of the own person • „Authenticity‟ of the online profile (identity/intention)
  11. 11. Use of Social Networking Sites ‘Experts’ – Identify journalists Example: Search for journalists on business platforms (XING / LinkedIn) -> checking their opinion on Facebook Public relations Example: Press release -> fan page -> search group / person to post Political opponent („find one intercessor“) Example: Who tweets pro opponent? -> gathering follower -> checking their opinion on Facebook
  12. 12. Use of Social Networking Sites Locally restriction on topics & people Example: Find important groups / topics / „local heroes‟ within the politician‟s constituency Testing one particular statement • Follow-up of public clash on Social Networking Sites • Fear of uncontrollable opinion mining process on the own page => not controversy Example: Abrogation of compulsory military service is a claim of the FDP party
  13. 13. What Politicians know / assume why Citizens do not participate • Dialogue is with MP‟s employee • Politicians do not reply on citizens‟ posts • Politics are „far away‟ from citizens‟ way of thinking -> Politicians have a strong awareness on authenticity issues and make it a serious issue for their everyday job
  14. 14. Best Practice – „Ice-breaker‟ for starting a two-way dialogue • Example Tweet of German MP – „Going to meet the families minister – what should I ask?“
  15. 15. Best Practice – „Ice-breaker‟ for starting a two-way dialogue • Facebook ask: quick questionnaire – “What is your opinion on a Facebook profile with expiration date?”
  16. 16. Best Practice – Profile -> Page “My friends! I am very sorry, there is no space for more friends… Please get interlinked with my profile throughout the like button.”
  17. 17. Best Practice – Author Annotation!/Halina_Waw
  18. 18. Conclusions (Interviewees) • All MPs using social media • Some are „experts‟ • Interlinking as „friend‟ is stronger than „like‟ • Types of dissemination are well known • Awareness how to start (none) dialogue – Polarising statements start a dialogue – Press releases quit a dialogue
  19. 19. Visions Web2.0 „Politician 2.0 up close and personal with short track to the citizen“ A fresh inside into opinion mining “An unobserved look-out”
  20. 20. References [1] M. Addis, S. Taylor, R. Fletcher, C. Wilson, F. Fallon, H. Alani, T. Wandhoefer, und P. Mutschke, “New ways for policy makers to interact with citizens through open social network sites - a report on initial results,” Internet, Politics, Policy 2010: an impact assessment (IPP2010), 16-17 September 2010, Oxford, UK. URL: [2] S. Joshi, E. Karamagioli, T. Wandhoefer, F. Fallon, R. Fletcher, C. Wilson, und B.I. Nasser, D5.1 Scenario definition, advisory board and legal/ethical review. URL: [3] Wandhoefer, Timo; Thamm, Mark; Mutschke, Peter (2011): Extracting a basic use case to let policy makers interact with citizens on Social Networking Sites: a report on initial results. In: Parycek, Peter; Kripp, Manuel J.; Edelmann, Noella (Hrsg.): CeDEM11 : proceedings of the international conference on e-democracy and open government ; 5-6 May 2011, Danube University Krems, Austria, Krems: Ed. Donau-Univ. Krems, S. 355-358. URL: [4] A. Claes, S. Sizov, S. Angeletou, J. Reynolds, S. Taylor, und T. Wandhoefer, D4.2 Initial WeGov toolbox, 2010. URL: [5] Wandhoefer, Timo; Thamm, Mark (2011): WeGov Projektvorstellung und Live Demo des Prototypen. Diskussion aktueller Anwendungsfälle. Deutscher Bundestag, Berlin, 31.03.2011. URL: [6] Joshi, Wandhoefer, Thamm, Mathiak, Van Eeckhaute, „Rethinking Governance via Social Networking: The case of direct vs. indirect stakeholder injection“, International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV2011), 26-28 September 2011, Tallinn, Estonia. URL: coming soon...