Assistant Secretary Mai Mislang’s mistake was not in judging the Vietnamese red wine. Her mistake was in tweetering it. In no less time than her return to the country, the whole world knows about it, thanks to a media that insatiably fish for tips, news, and rumors in the World Wide Web. A minor matter, yes but one that became part of the tangle of the Philippine political warfare.
And thereby hangs the tale of the political perils of social networking. A new medium, Facebook, Twitter and the like have their attraction: they are real-time fast and they can be used for mass e-mailing or broadcasting, or forming issue-based e-groups, or even in soliciting political contributions. Social networks are usually accessed by the internet literati, including those in power or stakeholders. For political strategists, the Web represents a new arena for political combat.
However, they can also be deadly. They can be used for misinformation, mined for damaging information, and otherwise subject to manipulation. Social networks are a heaven-sent (or hellish, depending on one’s point of view) cornucopia of information, true or not.
Mai Mislang will not be the first in the Aquino administration to go foul on the Internet. Certainly, she and this administration should already have learned their lesson.