Politicians, Techies and the Power of Social Media

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On May 3, the world marked World Press Freedom Day, which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, and serves as a reminder of the violations of press freedom around the world. It’s also a day of remembrance for journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

This day was especially poignant for me, as it took place two days after I had the privilege to attend ‘The Marker Com.vention’ in Tel Aviv, Israel, which featured two particularly-inspiring individuals. Alec Ross, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Senior Advisor for Innovation and Macon Phillips, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Digital Strategy at The White House, both spoke passionately about a hot topic within politics and society today—the ability of journalists and the general public to practice free speech and voice their opinions online.

 

Alec spoke from a foreign policy perspective about Washington’s continued support for bloggers, journalists, and writers from oppressed states, to ensure that they feel safe and secure from government crackdowns and that they are able to get their articles out into the blogosphere. The U.S. State Department has even built a “Panic Button” app — which instantly deletes your phone’s address book—to ensure that bloggers can remain safe and keep the free press going.

Macon entered the debate from a different, but equally interesting, standpoint. He argued that in recent times, politicians, businesses, and other traditional institutions have lost power as a result of the speed at which news is spread through social media channels. The strategies implemented by each institution in an effort to gain back authority or achieve a ‘re-negotiation of power’ vary greatly. One way that the White House is trying to adapt to ensure that the power shift is a positive change is by ''creating platforms that engage with public policy e.g. PIPA. -debating issues online in real time.''  Alec backed this up with his own opinion that ‘‘in 2012, overt is stronger than covert. I truly believe open public action is now more powerful than it ever was.’’

Alec and Macon hadn’t just impressed me by what they had said—after all, we know that the Internet has opened up the world to the media and has dramatically increased the pace at which we connect and share information. But they also captivated me by sharing how they’ve responded to this power shift and adapted themselves to it. It got me thinking that if the White House is reevaluating how it connects to their increasingly-powerful public, how can I make sure that Conduit’s social channels have adapted to the needs of our users?

So with that, I decided to make 5 promises to our social media channels to improve our publishers’ experiences, and keep the free speech going:

  1. Make some adjustments to our social channels so they’ll be even more user friendly, quirky, and likeable! We would like to open up Conduit to our followers by sharing more about the people who work here and the new product information that interests you most.
  2. Encourage your voice by building a more relevant and focused relationship with our users to deeper understand what you would like to see on our channels.
  3. Take responsibility when you feel something’s not right. We work exceptionally hard at Conduit to deliver cutting-edge, top-notch products, and we will make every effort to improve your user experience if you’re not completely satisfied with one of our products.
  4. Reach out to our customers and make a real effort to understand how our products are perceived, how your own customers use them, and what you would like to see in the future so we can continue making the right enhancements that’ll keep us at the forefront of engaging products.
  5. Update you via our social channels on the latest changes, updates, or improvements so that everything we do to adapt to your needs is transparent.

What’s your take on these 5 promises to you? We’d love to hear your feedback and get the free speech rolling now!