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Australian politicians on MySpace

17 July, 2007
By Allison Orr

MySpace has launched the Impact Channel, a page that acts as a starting point for MySpace users to connect to political and social information.  On this page are links to MySpace profiles for Australian politicians and NGOs, enrol to vote information, videos and relevant events.  It describes itself as "a place to make a difference".

Among the politicians who launched a MySpace profile to coincide with this new channel is Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, whose page includes a detailed profile, videos and currently 5894 friends, some of whom are fellow Labor MPs and candidates.  Many of Mr Rudd’s "friends" have left messages on the site, which range from political advice and good luck messages, to posts directed to “kev baby" and "the Rudd-Meister", that are less political in content.

Rudd is not the only politician to have embraced MySpace as a means to engage with younger voters, with politicians from all sides of politics setting up MySpace pages.  Bob Brown, Andrew Bartlett, Peter Garrett, and Joe Hockey, among others, have set up MySpace profiles.  John Howard has not as yet set up an individual site, however, there is a Howard Government link from the Impact Channel, that goes to a page with general information about the Howard Government, and this currently has 8 friends.

Senator Conroy, Shadow Minister for Communications and Information Technology, who also launched his site as part of the new Impact Channel, said: "There is a revolution taking place in Australia and around the world, in the way people communicate and gather information."

However, the MySpace territory is not as easy to control as politicians are used to.  Alongside genuine profiles for politicians in MySpace are the spoof pages that have been set up by admirers or satirists.  John Howard currently has several of these, some of which appear to be genuine at first glance; in fact a search on "John Howard" through MySpace will bring up these spoof sites as higher rankings than the Howard Government page.  One site has Howard describing himself as "the second greatest Australian Prime Minister ever", while another has him saying he is not only that, but also "the best looking".

Kevin Rudd also has a few of these, one of which lists Rudd’s heroes as John Howard and Pauline Hanson, another which describes him tickling Peter Garret to get him to sing Midnight Oil songs.

About MySpace
MySpace is a social networking site, similar to Facebook, that allows users to create a profile to list their interests, join groups, upload photos and videos, and collect friends.  MySpace currently has about 3.5 million registered users in Australia.  MySpace was bought by News Corporation in 2005.

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