With local elections approaching the campaign is not just being run on the streets but also in cyberspace. The screen shot from the DPP website above shows the party’s candidates for mayor or county commissioner in the end of year local government elections. Beneath each candidate’s photo there are icons linking to Plurk, Facebook, blogs, websites and YouTube. It shows that candidates are actively using social media as tools in their campaign.
A number of leading DPP politicians including Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) are active users of Plurk. Frank Hsieh has just published a book called “Frank’s Plurk Diary”. He began using Plurk in April this year and now has 11,447 friends and 3,519 fans. Plurk is currently much more popular than Twitter in Taiwan because it has a Chinese-language option.
A brief survey of the KMT’s websites show they are lagging behind he DPP in the social media revolution. The KMT’s plurk account is updated regularly but it only has 402 friends and 383 fans compared with the DPP’s Plurk account with 3,433 friends and 1,246 fans. The DPP’s official Facebook page has 6,394 fans. A search for the KMT on Facebook reveals several pages or groups with a few hundred members. (It is not clear which one is the official page.)
What looks to be KMT’s official YouTube channel hasn’t been updated for seven months. In contrast the DPP’s YouTube channel is active and the most recently uploaded video is a well produced piece of political satire that takes a shot at the KMT’s poor governance in Taipei City.
President Ma has sought to engage with the public online via a weekly video. However, when the weekly video was launched in July this year it attracted criticism when it was discovered the next two week’s videos had been recorded and uploaded in advance. Ma was also criticised for not using YouTube. Chen Shui-bian had a YouTube channel when he was the President. The White House also has a Youtube channel.
While US President @BarrackObama, Australian PM @KevinRuddPM and the British PM @DowningStreet are among world leaders using Twitter, as far as I know Taiwan’s President doesn’t have a Twitter or Plurk account.
Michael Turton, a well known Taiwan political blogger said, “The blogosphere and social media worlds here appear to be overwhelmingly green. This says good things about the young.” Perhaps this also says something about the future direction of Taiwan politics.