18 Apr 2012

Budding political role for Pacific social media, says academic

5:52 pm on 18 April 2012

A Vanuatu-based academic says he doesn't believe the Pacific is on the verge of a movement like the Arab Spring.

A new paper by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy says the number of people using social media, like Twitter and Facebook, is growing rapidly, though the region's leaders are notably absent.

Papua New Guinea now has nearly 90,000 Facebook users, whose number has significantly increased over the past six months of the country's political turmoil.

The institute's Derek Brien says one of the defining factors of the Arab Spring revolutions is that social networks were used as logistical tools to organise.

"While we're seeing this explosion of political discourse online in places like Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu and elsewhere in the Pacific, I don't think we're yet at the stage of unified movements or voices."

Derek Brien says given the increased level of social networking, the region's leaders need to start thinking about embracing technology to be part of the conversation.