He may be the shadow minister for the digital economy, but Labor MP Ed Husic has pulled the plug on using Twitter.
Mr Husic has been one of the most prolific politicians on Twitter, having tweeted some 20,000 times since joining and growing his base to 28,000 followers.
But speaking on ABC Radio National this morning, Mr Husic says that although once upon a time Twitter was the platform for him, these days it’s a “bully’s pulpit” that’s “toxic”, even though he’s never personally been bullied on it.
“The more you see the discourse on Twitter, the more you realise it’s not a place you want to be spending too much time on,” he told Fran Kelly on the RN Breakfast program.
“I don’t think technology is something that once you use something it’s set in stone using it. You’ve got to be able to evolve; it’s got to be able to work for you, and from my point of view Twitter is not necessarily the place I’m enjoying as much or finding as useful as it once was.”
Crikey political editor and long-time Twitter user Bernard Keane says he also occasionally takes a hiatus from the platform. He agrees that Twitter has evolved to a medium where in the last few years it amplifies and gives prominence to not only positive, but also negative remarks.
Keane’s theory is that this is mainly because these days Twitter is flooded with so much “depressing” news related to another murder, terrorist attack, or ethnic cleansing.
“It can be a very good medium for connecting people up. It can be a very good medium for giving justified and welcomed exposure to people who are doing good [things],” Keane said. “But it can also amplify bullying, negativity and snarkiness that people associate with social media, not just Twitter.”
Perhaps this is feedback Kara Hinesley, Mr Husic’s former adviser – who is now head of public policy and government affairs at Twitter Australia – can take to the company: stop the Twitter feed from being flooded with such negativity and more news about koalas hitching a ride in the wheel arch of a 4WD?
However, just because Mr Husic is off Twitter, it doesn’t mean he’s quitting social media altogether. He is the Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy after all.
Mr Husic will remain on Facebook as a way to stay connected with his local electorate of Chifley in western Sydney, while LinkedIn will be used to connect with other like-minded people interested in public policy and his portfolio area.
LinkedIn is also a platform he encourages others politicians to think about using more seriously.
For those that want to see the more “human side” of Mr Husic, he’ll also be keeping his Instagram account around, too.
“People say they want to see the human side of pollies and if there is a chance to demonstrate it via Instagram, then so be it.”
As for whether there’s a chance of Mr Husic ever re-joining Twitter, he said: “We’ll wait to see. I don’t see it in the near future”.