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IPU publishes new social media guide for parliaments and parliamentarians

Innovation tracker | Issue 8 | 29 Mar 2021
Question time 101” webinar via Zoom with the Speaker of the Parliament of New Zealand

“Question time 101” webinar via Zoom with the Speaker of the Parliament of New Zealand. Source: Twitter

Parliaments and their members are using social media to get closer to citizens, reaching out to inform, educate and engage. If used well, social media can turn information into knowledge, increase public understanding about how parliament works, and offer a pathway towards building trust. The negative effects of disinformation and deliberate attempts to disrupt democratic processes are well reported. Both parliaments and their members need to understand the risks and challenges of this new digital space. They need the skills to manage the online world safely and effectively.

Using social media effectively is important. As the 2018 World e-Parliament Report showed, 67 per cent of MPs used Facebook and 40 per cent used Twitter. The numbers for parliaments are even higher: 70 per cent use Facebook and 68 per cent use Twitter as an institution. One MP said:

I can reach (and be reached by) many people simultaneously and easily. I can forward and shape ideas, gather input, tap into sources that I would otherwise not have access to.

The IPU published its first set of guidelines for using social media in 2013. The digital world does not stand still and, since then, many things have changed. Social media has become even more embedded in our lives, directly or indirectly influencing our news, views, knowledge and friendships.

The new social media guide recognizes the growing importance of both social media and public participation in the lives of parliaments and parliamentarians. Through useful background information, a ‘how-to’ playbook and parliamentary case studies, this new guide is a practical tool. It will help its readers to use social media in a safe and measured way, while getting the maximum benefit from it. It will also assist parliaments and parliamentarians to plan, execute and measure social campaigns, and to maximize the potential for wider and more in‑depth engagement.

The new social media guide is available in English, French and Spanish from the IPU website.

Press release

Contact person: Dr. Andy Williamson, Senior Researcher at the IPU Centre for Innovation in Parliament – research@ipu.org