In America it’s “online engagement”, in Australia it’s “smear”

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The Obama campaign was lauded by pundits across the globe for its progressive, forward looking engagement with online activism. Obama had a team of volunteers whose job it was to trawl the Internet to spread his message, correct lies and challenge Republicans. During the 2008 campaign, newspapers like The Age lauded Obama and online activism. The Age also lauded Rudd’s “Kevin 07” online campaigning — which involved campaigners engaging with online communities, leaving comments, correcting Liberal lies and so on.

Unfortunately, in antipodean Australia, The Age’s David Rood and other technologically-illiterate anti-Labor reporters seem intent on misreporting Labor’s online activism.

LABOR is infiltrating social media sites to promote John Brumby and smear his political opponents in an underground campaign being run by staffers who work in the Premier’s taxpayer-funded private office.

What this “infiltration” boils down to is a couple of volunteers systematically engaging in social media and online forums, in the Obama for America vein.

What is this “manipulative” social media team doing?

  • Responding to critics on Twitter
  • Correcting errors on forums, blogs, Twitter, etc
  • Keeping notes on regular commenters and online activists
  • Having customised strategies for individual candidates

For example, investigate the website Mashable — one of the largest social media websites including articles on how organisations should engage with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and various other social networks. Many of the articles advise online engagement of just this sort. You could also check out Obama’s online media advisor Blue State Digital.

Unfortunately, luddite David Rood has decided to run with a political line, to throw mud at Labor and misreport.

It’s ludicrous “reporting” like Rood’s that saw articles criticising Rudd for having non-Australian and spam Twitter followers — as though this were some great crime — and indicating a complete failure of understanding of Twitter.

David Rood and the editors of The Age have demonstrated that they don’t understand the “interwebbies” and what’s more this article underscores why readership of the paper is collapsing.


Phil (@philquin) from Irredeemable invokes the spectre of Karl Rove and James Carville — who are outraged at this travesty.

One response to “In America it’s “online engagement”, in Australia it’s “smear””

  1. hillbillyskeleton Avatar

    People such as Rood are fast becoming irrelevant to the ongoing political discourse. Good.
    What he doesn't realise is that we don't have to read what he says anymore, in the way of the old newspapers, wherein you went from page to page searching out stories about politics, gardening, or whatever, without much other choice. Now, we have infinite choice, and irrelevancy is but a non-click away.