Tweeting Mandela - SA's learnt lessons

2012-02-26 22:32

Cape Town - Ex-president Nelson Mandela's health scares send Twitter into overdrive, but South African officials made savvier use of social media to keep the world informed on the global icon's latest medical woe.

The presidency used Facebook and Twitter to tell the public that "Madiba", as he is affectionately known, had been admitted on Saturday and later to assure an increasingly worried world that he was not in danger.

"It's a sign of a modern government embracing a modern era. The government has been more organised this time, and their social media activities are an example of that," Matthew Buckland, publisher of South African technology trend site Memeburn, told AFP.

"By the presidency breaking the news themselves and releasing the statement on Twitter, people followed by retweeting the presidency's statement and referring back to this as the original source of the news," he said.

"This is exactly how it should be handled as opposed to mass confusion and multiple, contradicting sources and conjecture."

When Mandela, 93, was hospitalised last year for a respiratory infection, a virtual news blackout sparked panic in a public relations blunder for those handling the legacy of one of the world's best-known people.

Presidency took control

This time the presidency took control, announcing his admission and giving an update.

"Im glad Mr nelson Mandela is Ohk," one social media user responded with relief. "Now i can finally study."

The efforts did not go unnoticed by a nation that increasingly uses smartphones and the internet.

"Get well soon Mr Madiba, tanx 4 informing us Mr President," applauded a Facebook poster in typically casual social media lingo.

"I'm not a Zuma supporter, but thank you zuma for let us know about MR. MANDELA. A great deed you did," said another.

Mandela is adored in South Africa for leading a racially divided country into democracy and is exalted internationally as a symbol of forgiveness and freedom.

Any hint of his ill-health immediately goes global, with hip hop giant Russell Simmons urging prayers and Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand calling him the "most inspirational man alive" on Saturday.

Unconfirmed reports

The detail-hungry media has offered praise but also criticism. As officials refused to say where Mandela was hospitalised or divulge exact details, unconfirmed reports that he had undergone hernia surgery flowed furiously.

"Last time it was a mess," wrote BBC correspondent Andrew Harding on the British broadcaster's website on Saturday.

"This time the presidency has been ahead of the social media rumours that fuelled much of the confusion in 2011, but the instinct to deny, rather than to say 'no comment,' remains strong, and as before, impatient and contradictory speculation has started to emerge."

The Sunday Times said the announcement was a substantial if terse improvement, yet warned of signs that similar panic could arise and that "credible, detailed" information was needed to avoid wild speculation.

"The authorities must also accept that there is unprecedented global interest in Mandela's condition and that new media platforms spread rumours rapidly," it said.

The Sunday Independent said the secrecy was inconsistent with the former president's legacy and "negates Mandela's principles of openness".

Balance

The tension between the inquisitive role of the press and the state's gatekeeping was healthy and unlikely to go away, Buckland said.

"It's difficult to know where that line is in terms of what they must reveal and what they should hold back," he said, adding that Mandela's privacy had to be respected despite his being a public figure.

"It is a balance, and in this case it feels as if the government got the balance right."

Read more on:    twitter  |  facebook  |  nelson mandela  |  cape town  |  internet  |  social networks  |  media
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!

 
 

I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 1 900 000

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Durbanville

Houses R 2 400 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is hard to keep some sort of balance when the natural rhythm has flown out the window. The best thing to do is try not to keep...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.