Home > Uncategorized > Lib Dem Voice BOTYs: Facebook Truthspreaders

Lib Dem Voice BOTYs: Facebook Truthspreaders

August 11, 2013

Nominations are open for the Liberal Democrat Voice awards, affectionately known as the BOTYs. Despite having a blog, I don’t really think of myself as part of the Lib Dem blogging scene; I’d have to update a damn sight more regularly for that! I started this blog to put up discussion drafts of articles intended for print, and sticking things on a piece of paper and putting them through somebody’s letterbox is still my authorial intent one way or another.

However, I am a LDV reader, and I do have opinions about who should be recognised for doing things online. I remain cynical about the merit of online campaigning as a replacement for real world activity (or indeed for online support, development and retention activities), but there is some good stuff happening online in two specific categories:

  • Liberal Democrat Tweeter/Facebooker of the Year
  • Best online campaign run by a Liberal Democrat

Many moons ago, when the Coalition was young, I posted about the negative narrative, and how uniformly negative comments about the Lib Dems (justified or otherwise; this is about narrative, not facts) tend to breed and reinforce themselves. Over on the party’s Facebook page, every post will attract at least half a dozen negative comments, most of them irrelevant to the post (usually about tuition fees, still).

Over time I noticed somebody called Pete Brown routinely going in and responding to critics – rebutting outright falsehoods, and contextualising the statements which were at least partly true. Where he led, I and others followed and now most posts by the party will have some positive comments from supporters, and most negative comments will be challenged where possible.

The immediate thing to note here is the disruption of negative reinforcement – the overall level of negative comments goes down.  The more reasoned and reasonable the Lib Dem side of the argument, the more antagonistic and illogical the opposition seems in comparison. And occasionally, just occasionally, people do engage in debate which leads to understanding each others’ position a little better.

I do not believe that this changes the minds of the people posting negative comments. But there are over 90,000 people who follow the Lib Dems on Facebook, more than the membership of the party. Not all of them will support us, of course – but for those who aren’t steadfastly opposed, seeing the negative narrative being challenged in the comment threads will help present a counter-narrative which will encourage them to make up their own minds.

It’s not fancy, it doesn’t have its own hashtag or the might of Campaigns Department behind it. But Pete Brown and his campaign to challenge the negative narrative and spread a bit of truth are, in my mind, the best online campaign we’ve got going right now, and well worth recognition. If my nominations make the shortlist, please consider voting for them.

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