People who are not familiar and do not deal with governmental agencies on a daily basis often view government as faceless and impersonal agencies that are hard to reach and communicate with. This is due to the culture within governmental agencies being steeped in traditional ideas that pertain to public relations and outreach work, which are still archaic giving the perception of being disconnected from the citizens they serve. In order to counter this perception, public agencies must adapt to the changes to effectively communicate to the citizens. Social media networking websites are ideal platforms to communicate information to the masses.
One of the most significant contributions to communication is the development of social media networking websites. Since their inception, social media networking outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have grown in popularity and have millions of users across the globe. These platforms have opened up numerous ways to connect with one another where we could share life’s events and news. It has also led to how we obtain access to information that was not easily available and instantaneous. Social media networking websites and technologies have led to the enhancement of day-to-day operations by paving the way to potential changes on ways the public and government interact by delivering efficient service and developing transparency.
In addition, social media could be used to enhance the functions in handling court cases. Working for one of the largest appellate courts in California, social media networking websites could be used to its advantage. For instance, being located in Los Angeles, the court handles numerous high-profile civil cases such as the sale of the Clippers basketball team with Donald Sterling to criminal cases such as the Phil Spector murder trial that have garnered worldwide attention. In particular, social media technologies could enhance participation in governments that traditionally involve physical attendance at public hearings, trials, and panels. For example, the public could log in to the court’s website and stream live feed of the trial or hearing . This makes it very convenient for those who do not have access to justice or the chance to experience public hearings. Also, the barriers could be eliminated with the usage of this technology in disseminating the information.
Moreover, social media could be used to redefine how governments operate. By using social media and technologies as a way to enhance operations, it takes away the traditional boundaries/operational procedures issues where the public is not aware of what is going on with how judicial matters are conducted. Another networking website example is Twitter, an online platform that allows people to post up to 140 characters and updates of links or members’ profiles with cellphones, iPads, and tablets. Technology has made it possible to stay connected even with current events. Twitter could be effectively used to broadcast, re-broadcast hearings, headlines, news releases, public service announcements, job announcements, accomplishments, fact sheets about the stats of the court. Upcoming announcements such as court closures, holidays, and emergency information could be spread via Twitter. With technology, information passes quickly and exponentially online. This allows easier access for the public, they do not have to wait for the documents to be mailed or come to court in person just to obtain information.
Although there are many challenges by using social media platforms such as private information being released or shared, the advantages of using advanced technology to make access and transparency easier outweigh the cons. To ensure privacy, social media and technology could be managed through security and privacy settings for the information and content data being displayed and viewed. Social media and technology make networking, public participation, and engagement more powerful by obtaining information faster and easier.