Wilders on TwitterPosted: 28/09/2011
For this assignment I will review my experience of following Geert Wilders (PVV) on Twitter.
Although I do not subscribe to his political views, I started following Wilders on Twitter earlier this year because I was interested in how he would present himself on-line. I wondered if he would spew as much hate through Twitter as he normally does in political debates, since this could potentially be a lot easier. As it turns out, he rarely does attempt to convey a hateful message through Twitter. Most of his Tweets, which he posts about once every three days on average, consist of a critique on other politicians, often about Prime Minister Rutte. He also posts a lot of messages about the economic crisis, especially recently concerning Greece, in which he continually expresses his opinion that they should leave the Euro zone.
Hardly ever will you see Wilders make a personal comment. The only one I have managed to pick out of his Tweets was one where he expressed some excitement about the start of a new political year and mentioning it was his birthday. Wilders often links to news media such as the NOS site or a newspaper like Trouw, sometimes apparently from his phone, as the links will go to the mobile version of the sites. This shows some unfamiliarity with the medium, as if he does not realize many people will access Twitter from a PC. Sometimes he posts links to the site of his political party, where he posts transcripts of speeches he has given.
It appears Wilders has never posted a photo or video on Twitter. More importantly, there is no interaction with voters whatsoever. As Jackson and Lilleker (2009) point out, as well as Tim O’Reilly (2005), Web 2.0 offers countless ways for people to interact with each other, where these interactions encourage an “informational democracy” (Castells, 1996). Youngs (2007) also emphasizes these diverse forms of interactivity and how they open up ways for participation and connectivity. Based on these views alone, Wilders is only using Twitter at a very basic minimal level. Jackson and Lilleker (2009) suggest that proper use of the internet can “strengthen attachments to political parties and their leaders”, which is something every politician wants because in a democracy their job ultimately depends on their connection with the public.
The conclusion Jackson and Lilleker (2009) make about politicians not being fully engaged with the norms of social networking communities seems to apply to Geert Wilders as well, based on his minimal use of Twitter.
My evaluation of Wilders since following him on Twitter has changed only slightly, in the sense that I expected him to express himself a lot more in the way he is famous for on TV. Specifically regarding his opinion about immigration, Islam and muslims in The Netherlands, and the harsh rhetoric he uses when talking about these issues. As it turns out he does not address these issues nearly as much as I was used to from seeing him on TV. Nevertheless I have not changed my opinion about him and I would never consider voting for him or his political party.