Everyone knows Twitter was the catalyst for the revolutionizing outcome of this year’s American presidential election. Nothing is about to change that.
But there are major issues for other countries including the English-speaking ones that govern digital communications in the world’s modern information ecosystems.
Amid the 2016 American presidential campaign there was one woman who repeatedly failed to grasp that what works for online communications in the United States in the social media age can’t necessarily be applied to other modern communications systems. Her name was Hillary Clinton.
So much for the idea of making tech management across the board less “the preserve of left wing old men who don’t want to give computers to all the students.”
Kelley Beaupre, a longtime expert in tech management for the United States State Department, was hired as the lead on Twitter policy for the department. But like almost all of Clinton’s digital teams throughout the year, Beaupre and others simply failed to understand that what works for online communications in the United States in the social media age can’t necessarily be applied to other modern communications systems.
That’s especially true in situations where not just much of the communications power but just about all of the communications apparatus is held in US hands.
The 2016 American presidential campaign was the latest example of the rise of non-American digital tools becoming part of the future communications landscape for most important governments. The Obama administration and the other governments like China that are actively asserting themselves in the digital space should acknowledge it would be difficult to make sense of how to bring American digital teams into their own systems.
It’s not only the early adopters who can be very slow to understand what is working in an advanced area, but it’s important that other governments actually pick up on what is working and then bring that in.
Beaupre’s role eventually lasted until after the end of the Obama administration. It isn’t clear whether her job was cancelled or she simply moved on elsewhere. Some background:
After Beaupre left, Twitter set up a new team to handle their internal regulation. The team was originally called the corporate technology team.
Shortly thereafter, the first former Clinton tech team member, then also newly hired, was named as the chief technology officer.
The latest that I could find was a team that’s formed a part of Twitter’s operations outside the US.
Some of the biggest news coming out of Bequret’s job is just recently published on the blog, The Washington Post. She wrote the book “Make Me.” The title actually derives from a line from the second book of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” where Eamon MacArdle says to a coworker: “Is it possible to make myself?”
Her new book is an exploration of the intersection of technology, data science and what looks like the ethics and perhaps even common sense, that are needed to embrace the impact of digital technologies, and whether or not we can actually achieve for ourselves and our societies.
The new book chronicles the rollout of Twitter’s policy that made it clear that language banning “violence against women, including rape, and the use of sexual violence to gain power over others” was explicit and would not be tolerated.
This past February saw the unanimous adoption by the Australian parliament of such a policy.
Bequret had already gotten to know Australia’s decision through her work with NGO Code Advisers.
“Tweets by Australia’s 12th prime minister (and current Prime Minister of Brazil) John Howard during the 2012 London Olympics were two of the most sent off and shared on Twitter,” she wrote.