Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Twitter Politics - Devos Tweets

Given that the world now seems to make major decisions based on 140 character Tweets... this post looks at the US Governments Education Nomination, Betsy Devos, by exploring what US Senators, Congressmen and Governors were saying about the nomination on Twitter.

Topline stats include:

  • 93 Democrats posted 747 Tweets which got 104,174 replies, 555,154 retweets and 1,556,233 likes
  • 2 Independent candidates posted 11 Tweets, which got 11,258 replies, 158,562 retweets and 456,878 likes
  • 49 Republicans sent 187 tweets which got 57,001 replies, 14,232 retweets and 50,845 likes
It's been a while since my last post, part of the reason for this is because there are now so many people wanting to be heard and such polarised views that I doubt a blog post would make much difference either way.

Ironically the reason for writing this post is the same reason that I started blogging... Which explored some similar issues in UK education where I wondered how much of a difference would be made in UK education with such divisive politics... Here's an extract from my first blog post: Culture in Education...A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

Dream Make Over – The Big Clean Up

We’ve had the Big Sort, we’ve had the Big Society maybe we need someone to suggest that we need The Big Clean Up before we have any more plans. We also know that people will get behind this because they already have done during the London Riots.

Also when we watch programs like DIY SOS and Dream Makeover an army of volunteers always come from nowhere when a neighbour has fallen on hard times, and needs some help...all that is needed is for someone like Ty Pennington to act as the catalyst, to lead and co-ordinate the construction.

Our kids and their education is certainly a house that needs and deserves to be put in order, so I would be surprised if there was not the largest army of volunteers standing by to pitch in - whether young enthusiastic new recruits, battle weary veterans, or unskilled but well-meaning militia keen to help make a difference. And you never know, if the “good for nothing NEET” & lost generation see people turning the slum back into a village, they may even join in the clean up. I don’t think it would be long before the "lone nut" would be recognised as a visionary leader.

Devos Trending
So last week Devos was trending and some 2 million Tweets were posted on the topic. Whether we consider what was shared with all the fake news and fake accounts or with the kind of language that people used to express their views... how on earth are people supposed to find out what the real issues are? 

No easy task when even the most established of news outlets have been discredited (or vilified) in recent weeks. So I decide to look at what the politicians are saying. 

I went onto each Senator and Governor's Twitter account (And Congressmen in 11 states so far) and searched for "Devos" in their timeline between the 15th January - 9th Feb. 

The articles that were written and/or shared by these elected representatives can be found in this collection: US Politicians - DeVos Articles (There are 229 resources so may take a moment to load). 

I have also added articles that were Tweeted out with the same URL as as the politicians website and videos from their youtube accounts on this US Politicians Map

It's going to be a bad day for a politician if both their Twitter account and website were hacked on the same day, right? So I'm assuming that these are trusted and unbiased sources (Trusted as far as the media and politicians are... given that both are amongst the least trusted professions... It might come as no surprise that educators being amongst the most trusted). 

Democrat Bias?
If you take a moment to look at this map it may well appear to have bias towards Democrats. This is not the case. I have intentionally used Twitter as the only source of research here because... well, isn't that how we form opinions and make decisions today? 

The consequences of this lack of digital literacy and critical thinking can be profound as this article Governments Don't Set the Political Agenda Anymore Bots Do highlights.

There are all kinds of ways that people with this political view or that could explain away the reasons for these stats that I'm about to share, but that would miss the point... or at least the point I'm trying to make.

I for one am not interested in political point scoring and can see the dangers of people who are making big decisions and the way that some groups are using news outlets and technology... isn't it time to put a real investment into digital literacy and digital citizenship?

If anyone wants to make a case for Digital Citizenship and jobs then not only has social media played a big role in UK, US and European politics but the social media feeds on US politicians websites are prominent... the same can't be said for schools as some still are not using some of these tech tools.

In a post where I explained how and why I felt that SNP Domination was Inevitable the day before the UK 2015 General Election I ended the post with the following comment

If any politician (from any party) wants to know how to continue to take advantage of this process in politics or, ideally, apply to other areas, especially in education, you know where to find me if you have any questions. Why SNP Domination was Inevitable

Whether UK education or in the US where many members of my PLN are based, this statement remains the same.

Here's the stats on how many Tweets Democrats and Republican politicians have shared between 15th Jan-9th Feb. For more details please see this US Politicians Devos Tweets spreadsheet