Aaaaah, hapo amenikuna patamu as Makwaia wa Kuhenga would say. It has been very (veeeeeery) interesting watching the emergence of youth politics in the past five years concurrently with the rise of social media. It's a natural attraction: the young politicians are media savvy in a way that the old guard can't even begin to understand let alone compete with. But what are they doing with the awesome powers of social media?
Well- just like the old guard was able to manufacture and manipulate their contemporary media tools to suit them, so does the youth. One or two have been able to create social media mini-empires of their own that revolve around their political persona. Their public avatars, if you will. Great. Does this mean that these politicians are trustworthy and accountable in their use of this media? I don't think so. Non-professional socialmedia is the primordial soup of news- you gotta be very careful what you fish out of that pot. The same demons that haunt traditional media are there in socmed, and they move faster.
Does having a blog or a twitter account or a forum and "breaking news" or leaking documents or expressing your opinion make you a journalist? Should you be held to the same level of accountability as a professional? Or should that kick in when you Get Paid To Use Social Media? Or when you sell advertizing space? Is it okay if you are a politician, on the government payroll and using social media? Is it okay to claim to break news when you do it using Anonymous and refuse to reveal identity, sources or interests driving you?
Weigh in. I would love to hear from you about how you view social media and accountability. I'm afraid that the debate ended rather abruptly in the last five minutes as I was composing the blogpost but you can catch the stream of conversation on twitter at hashtag mediaforum.