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19th Aug 2022

MEPs have stopped blogging, are afraid of Twitter, love Facebook

  • MEPs are worried about negative reaction from their tweets (Photo: respres)

However real or exaggerated reports of 'Twitter revolutions' and 'Facebook activism' in Tunisia, Moldova, Iran and the UK are, members of the European Parliament appear on the whole to be afraid of the micro-blogging utility yet in love with the social networking service.

While use of Twitter is slowly on the uptake amongst MEPs, it can hardly be said to be popular among them in the way that other online activities are, according to a survey of how MEPs are using new media released on Tuesday by Brussels lobby firm Fleishman-Hillard.

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Fewer than one in three MEPs surveyed felt that Twitter was effective, with many "struggling to see the value" of the online device.

The reason, according to the survey authors, is that there is a "fear factor" of what might happen if there is a negative reaction to something they tweet.

They are also worried that there is a language barrier inherent in both Twitter and blogging. At the same time, despite this fear existing, one in three respondents who blog or tweet also do so in another language, with English being the most common second language.

The survey, which drew a response from 120 out parliament's 736 deputies - a rate higher than the average of most market surveys - suggested that 34 percent of the euro deputies use Twitter, up from 21 percent in 2009.

However, the survey shows that most MEPs view Twitter as primarily a broadcast mechanism rather than an opportunity for conversing with citizens. A total of 57 percent of respondents said Twitter's main benefit was to "express views directly" while just 25 percent viewed it as a way of producing a dialogue.

One MEP also described Twitter's greatest benefit as "keeping journalists interested".

Amongst the different ideological flavours, Greens and Socialists seem to be the most enthusiastic about the service, with 80 percent of the five Green MEPs that responded to the survey tweeting, compared with 42 percent of the 19 Socialists that did so and 35 percent of the 20 Liberals that did. Some 27 percent of the 37 European People's Party respondents tweet.

In the last two years however, there has been a doubling of the uptake in social networking, mainly Facebook, but many deputies have stopped blogging as a result of the considerable amount of time it takes compared to the immediacy of Facebook and Twitter. Just 29 percent of MEPs now write a personal blog, down from 40 percent in 2009.

Despite worries about the service, it was the likes of YouTube and DailyMotion for which deputies appear to have the lowest estimation, with just 12 percent calling online video very effective.

The survey came out the same day that mass protests rocked Egypt with Cairo shutting down access to Twitter on all networks by mid-afternoon.

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