Earlier today it was announced that Jonah Lomu, Israel Dagg and Eric Murray were referred to the police for alleged breaches of electoral law. This relates to tweets they sent on election day. Obviously this made the news, and both John Key and Annette King were asked for comment. Annette King referred to the rules around what can and can’t be done on election day, particularly in relation to social media, as “dopey”. This has prompted one of the oddest exchanges I have seen on Twitter in a while.
There is a debate to be had around the rules that apply to social media on election day, but the way to start the debate is not an abusive rant at a senior MP. The most likely outcome of rants like this is that MPs will step back from using social media as they have been. I am pretty sure that Annette runs her own account. She is, for all intents and purposes, the current acting Leader of the Opposition. I doubt there are many countries in the world where the Leader of the Opposition runs their own account. But if people are going to keep abusing MPs for the views they express, then they are going to shift towards the usage model where all they do is push content out and not engage. This would be a bad thing. Social media is great for discussion, but the fact it isn’t face to face should not mean that the rules of decency no longer apply.