Social media – the new way to stick it to the man?

Author’s note: I’m reproducing this blog from our internal City of Toronto staff webbook blog on social media.

Would you agree we face a great deal of bureaucracy in our work in government?

It’s generally not one person who may impede the progress of a task but more often a chain of sometimes old and sometimes new “procedures”, “regulations”, “reports” and the like. I think it’s fair to say this is “the man” – or at least “the man” we face most often. I think it’s also fair to say that social media is one way to stick it to “the man”. Maybe make “the man” consider changes.

iPhone and petitions

Think of last summer’s recent protests here in Canada against Rogers and their proposed pricing over the Canadian launch of the iPhone (you are lucky US folks – your carriers tend to charge way less bucks than we face up North). While Rogers isn’t our bureaucracy, it is interesting how citizens here in Canada (and, of course, potential iPhone users), used Facebook and other social web sites to make a case for Rogers to change pricing. And they did!!!!

I think we should take from this. Here’s an example: our Mayor was promoting an online handgun ban petition at the same time as the iPhone launch. Let’s call that an extension of social media but perhaps more old school. It got well over 65 thousand signatures after launch. Can our Canadian Federal government just ignore that? We’ll see.

Are we ready?
Further, should we encourage citizens to create groups on Facebook et al or should we do it for them? What happens when someone makes a group calling for the City (or our organization) to change? Can our bureaucracy – our “man” deal with these approaches?

It’s interesting how governments at all levels banned Facebook access outright for most employees. Right now it would seem “the man” fears employee abuse of social media and perhaps that’s legitimate in some cases. But I wonder if that means “the man’s” glass is half full or half empty? Any thoughts?

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Cool post. Interesting to see the same trends and conversations in Canada as in the U.S. Would be interesting to see what would happen if grassroots movements grew among gov’t employees through social media.

What about an online petition/FB group to get access to FB/Twitter during work. Would that work?

Patrick Quinn

Perhaps more interesting is the likelihood of grassroots movements among the governed.

Keith asks: “What happens when someone makes a group calling for the City (or our organization) to change?”

This is the critical question facing government on all levels right now. In the US, the interval between today and the kickoff of the mid-term election season is probably the last opportunity many agencies will have to address this question at their own pace. After that, change will likely be driven–I think imposed–by the organized public.