2006 – Internet causes change in government

I remember an article from circa 1994 quoting me, in terms of social impact of the then emerging world wide web as saying (quote) If the Internet has not brought down a government anywhere yet, it soon will (end quote)

Others may be able to point to an earlier example, but I think we can now say authoritatvely that the Internet played a major role in the results of the US mid term elections of 2006, and the subsequent shift of power from the Republican incumbents to the Democrats.


As Politics Online reports, “Internet activism such as viral videos, blogs, and advocacy campaigns made a huge impact on the midterm elections”.

The new You Tube phenomena appears to have played a major role. Antony Mayfield, Head of Content & Media at Spannerworks, a search engine marketing firm, reports “Half of the top ten most linked to videos online are connected with US politics.”

The two biggest cliff-hangers in the Senate the morning after were two senators who had the biggest gaffes exploited on YouTube. Senator George Allen’s “Macaca” moment was downloaded heavily. Apparently some Virginia voters reacted and when they went to the polls they supported his opponent, Democrat Jim Webb. And Montana voters didn’t take too lightly to Conrad Burns napping on their time and taxes either. John Tester defeated the incumbent by a narrow margin.

Add one more fact. Experts are saying that online campaigns may also be responsible for the record high number of young voters in this year’s election. About 24 percent of Americans under the age of 30, or at least 10 million young voters, cast ballots in Tuesday’s elections that saw Democrats make big gains in Congress. That was up 4 percentage points from the last mid-term elections in 2002.

And enough to cause the difference! Mark 2006 as the year that free access to information on the Internet – as opposed to the filtered and ofteen biased offerings of mainstream media – finally caused a change in government in a major democracy.


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