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Role of Social Media in Good Governance

Julfiqar Robin*

In January 2011 thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square and then we saw the collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s rule, after 30 years of power. During the time of ‘Arab Spring[1]’ we realized the power of social media for the first time. Social media is a platform that creates a new opportunity to express the choice. Through social media people hold the governments accountable and can participate in decision making process. Good governance can be ensured this way.

 

We can examine the notion of good governance in the light of the related features of Social media. In the 1992 report entitled “Governance and Development”, the World Bank defines ‘Good governance’ as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”

Accountability, Participation, Representation, Fair Elections, Responsiveness, Transparency, Rule of Law, Innovation, Human rights, Cultural Diversity and Social Cohesion are the main features of good governance. By using Social media citizen can raise their voice to keep the government accountable for ensuring transparency. It’s a platform for government organs to showcase the good that they do for their citizens.

 

The number of social media users worldwide in 2018 is 3.196 billion, up 13 percent year-on-year.[2] Facebook was the first social network to surpass 1 billion registered accounts and currently sits at 2.23 billion monthly active users. That’s why many of the developed countries have started to engage people and provide services through social media. As a part of e-governance, it plays a vital role to Access to information (A2i). Near about 67 percent of American citizens are now getting their news from social media.[3] The developing countries like Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar also started to provide services related with information. It’s actually the reflection of public demand to update the government system with the age of information technology. For improving political communication government must give importance and analyze of public opinion getting from social media. From this concern, many of the government organizations, Ministries now have the verified Facebook pages. So, they can easily communicate with people and give answers for their service related query. Because of the growing use of social media in government offices to reach and engage with the community, traditional communication process are losing its vogue

 

According to Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer, an organization’s social media page is 24 percent more believable than its advertising. Cory Booker, who is the former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey

Says, “When we embraced social media, we took more control of the Newark narrative. We increased responsiveness toward residents. We drew more of our constituents in to participate in government”[4].

 

Social media can be a great media for being connected with people during crisis moment like natural disasters. It has added a new dimension in mass communications. Jennie Walker* says, “Our organization now clearly recognizes the value of leveraging social media in a crisis. As a result of the success of these practices we’ve received increased internal resources, support and recognition for social media.”

 

Many constructive criticizes, protests and movement related with the governance process are also seen in the social media. One can easily publish opinion on his social media profile and participate in a discussion related with government’s activities. Thus people can influence on government’s decision making process. In 2018, Quota reform movement and Road safety movement in Bangladesh are good example for this. Both of the movements rapidly spread through social media and protesters gathered on road. Because of the public demand, government then took necessary measurement. It’s an instance of public awareness and people’s participation which is necessary for ensuring good governance.

 

In this decade, both of developed and developing countries have brought significant changes in their social, political and economic sectors by using Information and Communication Technology. Many of the countries emphasize on developing e-governance for ensuring good governance whereas social media is an important component of e-governance. It provides users with deep and rich experience for participation, interaction and collaboration. So government should think about its utilization.

 

*Student, Department of government and politics, Jahangirnagar University.

[1] The Arab Spring was a series of pro-democracy uprisings that enveloped several largely Muslim countries, including Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bahrain. The events in these nations generally began in the spring of 2011.

[2] https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/

[3] Shearer, E. and Gottfried, J. News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Pew Research Center, 2017.

[4]Hootsuite report, The State of Social Media in Government in 2018.

*Social Media Advisor of Communications and Stakeholder Relations, RMWB, Canada.

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