Golis: Will Facebook make us better citizens?

  • MIKE SMITH / Las Vegas Sun

If a politician was cited for say, speeding, what are the chances she or he would share the news via Twitter or Facebook?

Parked along highway, while officer writes ticket. All a terrible misunderstanding. Please don’t mention to local newspapers. Thks.

Well, no. Politicians, like the rest of us, are not programmed to disclose situations that cause controversy or embarrassment.

If you follow your hometown politicians on Facebook, you know they use social media to share information and opinions, provide updates on public events, engage in self-promotion and, now and again, show their warm and fuzzy selves.

Supervisor and state Senate candidate Mike McGuire last week used his Facebook page to promote events in Healdsburg, Rohnert Park and Eureka, re-broadcast earthquake alerts, show photos of beautiful landscapes (that happen to be in the Senate district he hopes to represent) and even file a backyard crop report.

Above a photograph of an apple, McGuire wrote: “Bumper crop of apples — for the first time — off of our tree we planted last year! Dang excited!”

McGuire, among the first and most enthusiastic adopters of social media, understands its value as a means for telling his story. More than 7,700 people have liked his candidate’s page, which proclaims: “Next Gen votes. It’s your future. Own it.”

Congressman Jared Huffman also understands. Huffman last week took his Facebook followers on a marijuana bust in Trinity County, thanked the people who attended a Petaluma meeting on plans to close a mail processing plant, praised the latest court decision involving salmon protection and Klamath River flows, and even displayed a photograph of himself and the salmon he caught.

For politicians, this becomes a powerful tool. Twenty years ago, a newsletter sent in the mail served as the primary method of communicating with friends and supporters.

Today, politicians can communicate as often as they like, and it happens instantaneously. In these circumstances, they are left to worry they are sharing too much.

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