Much like any useful tool, social media can be seen as a double-edged sword —It has the power to allow an individual to personally communicate with the world. Messages can be curated to exact a specific statement to a society. It’s all about interaction.
It also has the power to prevent face-to-face communication and can result in many individuals posting things they don’t mean or that are offensive in nature.
As a candidate in a federal or provincial election, using Twitter or facebook to connect with voters can be seen as key. It gives them the opportunity to communicate directly with voters, respond to questions and get information out about where they will be making face-to-face appearances beside the traditional forums and door-knocking.
As a candidate in a federal or provincial election, using social media tools can also be harmful if in the past, the candidate made some rather frivolous or offensive statements or posted unflattering or offensive photos.
Take for example, independent MLA for Calgary-Bow Deborah Drever who was elected as an NDP MLA on May 5th in the provincial election.
It didn’t take long for social media hounds to comb through her personal history to find a few questionable photos. Most were willing to take them with a grain of salt, due to Drever’s young age and inexperience.
But then, another photo was found, this time on her instagram account, calling former Premier Jim Prentice and Rick McIver an offensive term, contradictory to the NDP stance on LGBTQ and acceptance.
Drever was then forced to apologize and was suspended by Premier Notley from the NDP caucus.
It was always a question to the Alberta NDP why they did not vet each candidate, combing through their past, especially on social media. Could this embarrassment have been prevented?
The most recent casualty of a social media pitfall in this federal election is a former Liberal candidate for Calgary Nosehill.
Ala Buzreba was the latest candidate to have her social media feeds, especially Twitter, looked at through with a microscope, and some didn’t like what they found.
Buzreba was forced to apologize on Aug. 18th for some tweets she posted as a teen four years ago that were offensive. Later that day she stepped down, and prompted Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau to make a statement.
It really is surprising young candidates like Buzreba and Drever did not show more social media savvy. Anyone running for public office, especially knowing the benefits and pitfalls of social media, should ensure their social media accounts and feeds are – if anything – rather bland.