Politicians tweet on hold

An international study involving researchers from the Gandia Campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and the University of Valencia (UV) indicates that European politicians were unable to explain anti-Covid measures at the beginning of the pandemic on Twitter.

The work analyzes the contents of the Twitter accounts of various European political leaders during the first forty days of the crisis caused by the coronavirus. Specialists say the use of this communication channel is “ineffective in promoting measures such as cleaning hands or social distancing”. The research also notes that these political figures “fail to take advantage of social media networks and their millions of followers to promote their leadership among the population.”

The study published in the journal information specialist, It shows that European political figures such as Pedro Sanchez, Giuseppe Conte, Emmanuel Macron or Boris Johnson, have failed to take advantage of their position of influence to spread messages that have already reached the population and encouraged them to comply with established standards to avoid contagion. According to the authors, these politicians lost the opportunity to “show themselves wearing a mask, respecting social distance, or suggesting hygiene measures.”

A researcher from the University of Valencia, Sebastian Sanchez, highlights that European communication policy during the first 40 days of the pandemic “required clear, strong and coordinated discourse from political leaders,” adding that “that did not happen.” Thus, in his opinion, the flow of communications on Twitter from European leaders responsible for the countries most affected “turned out to be individualistic and ineffective in the face of the health challenge.” These leaders “missed the opportunity to lead by example, an essential component of true leadership.”

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For his part, Esteban Galan, researcher in the Department of Audiovisual Communication, Documentation and Art History at UPV’s Gandia Campus, emphasized that the novelty of this research is that the analysis focuses primarily on studying the picture that leaders paint. Through the photos and videos they posted on their personal accounts during the first weeks of the pandemic.

The international nature of the research has allowed it to have wide coverage in the UK and has made it possible to find recurring patterns among the main leaders of the European countries most affected by the first wave of the epidemic.

Videos ‘Too Long’

“The results of this study are very useful for continuing this line of research with a second work in which the public media of Italy, France, Spain and the United Kingdom have played in building a story about the epidemic,” Gallan adds.

The results of the research show that the European leaders analyzed hardly showed aspects of confinement in their daily lives. In addition, they highlight aspects such as the fact that the length of the videos of the Spanish president, Pedro Sanchez, was “excessive” and did not allow his followers to easily understand more important issues. Meanwhile, neither Emmanuel Macron nor Boris Johnson has appeared in any publication wearing the mask.

This article, which also includes Lindsey Drylie Carey, of Glasgow Caledonian University, presents data on publication, topics, and presence of recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) or staging in publications by Presidents Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron, Pedro Sanchez and Giuseppe Conte.

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On the other hand, the case of Tedros Adhanom, head of the World Health Organization, who according to the authors sometimes showed “the behavior of an Instagram influencer more common than that of a director of a global health organization in one of the worst healthcare crises in decades” was also analyzed for his posts about Celebrities and his participation in discussions with other political figures.

The authors recognize the importance of giving these characters an image of power and leadership, and that the multi-directional communication that social networks provide can be essential to gaining citizens’ trust. Despite this, they noted, “the communication strategies used consist only of reproducing institutional messages and images, which hardly succeed in establishing effective communication with citizens.”

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