The sad thing about the Compton case: it provides another reason for politicians to fear the Internet

BCU MA Events and Exhibition Management student Sammy Williams is working on a project to encourage Birmingham’s councillors to engage more readily with citizens through social media; the Gareth Compton case is another huge hurdle for her to get over. 

That’s the really sad thing at the heart of this affair: it makes councillors more likely to shy away from what could be a useful tool for civic engagement.

I’d actually suggested to Sammy that she invite Cllr Compton to speak at an event she’s planning to launch her idea. As he’s had problems before with his Twitter persona, I thought he might have some valuable perspective to add to a conversation about social media in local politics. He could have provided a useful dollop of realism in a conversation which all too quickly drifts towards utopian idealism of openness and accountability. 

That ship has probably sailed now: Sammy’s job will be harder but she should still do it, unfortunately with Cllr Compton as a cautionary tale rather than a participant.

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: