Webometric Thoughts

May 19, 2009

Why has the BNP failed on Twitter?

Filed under: BNP,Twitter — admin @ 3:06 pm

As I have mentioned before, the BNP tend to get a far higher proportion of political traffic than they deserve. Whilst this can be attributed to the web providing a forum for the discussion of vile ideas that are unacceptable amongst the general public, it is interesting to note that their success has not carried over to Twitter.

Whilst the Twitter logo is proudly displayed on the BNP homepage, the official BNP Twitter account has only been used to highlight blog posts on their web site, and even this has not happened for a over a month. The result of their Twitter experiments: a more motley bunch of 58 Twitterers it would be difficult to find.

So why has the BNP failed on Twitter? After all, my own criticism of Twitter is the lack of room for reasoned arguments…something the BNP has no time for.

Their failure is mainly because people can see who you follow on Twitter. As I have mentioned before, as someone interested in politics I often follow opinions which are the opposite of mine. The shame of being mistaken for a BNP supporter, however, would be too much even for me (and I follow @MayorOfLondon!!).

There is also an argument that Twitter is just too open. As the BNP constantly strive to promote a professional image they know that their own members are their biggest handicap. If the BNP truly embraced Twitter the facade of respectability that they constantly strive for would soon disappear under the weight of their own members’ ignorance.

The BNP thrive in those online places where their members are in the majority; their lack of presence on an open site like Twitter shows what a minority they are.

November 22, 2008

Sky News on BNP site traffic…and other opinions

Filed under: BNP,comments — admin @ 5:16 pm

The leak of the BNP membership details has continued to produce a vast amount of press coverage over the last couple of days, and I must admit to being slightly addicted to reading both the stories and the comments of the masses (impossible to read and support democracy). Anyway, yesterday Sky News published a story about how they had seen research which showed the BNP web site got more traffic than the Labour web site!

Whilst “Research seen by Sky News” gives it an air of mystery/exclusive, the story is well known, I even blogged about it myself back in March. Unfortunately Sky News miss the reason why the BNP is so big online: Their values are not acceptable amongst the majority of society and can not be freely aired in the real world. So rather than a story of support for the BNP, it is a story about the unacceptable nature of their politics in the modern world.

What I would really like to see after the story dies down, is an analysis of the comments the public have been placing. Skewed heavily towards BNP activists, the comments provide a great opportunity to understand the irrational thinking of the BNP members.

November 19, 2008

BNP Membership List Online – Then taken down

Filed under: BNP,data protection — admin @ 12:10 pm

For those who don’t know, BNP stands for ‘British National Party’, a right-wing party that loves to hate. Whilst their 2007 membership list was placed online , to shame the members, it has seemingly since been taken down. However, when data is released on the web, it is very hard to get it back. Remember AOL’s search data scandel, or the AACS encryption key controversy; you can’t put the cat back in the bag.

A few other thoughts are available on my other (rarely-updated) blog.

March 20, 2008

The Surprising Web: The case of UK political traffic

Filed under: BNP,parliament,politics,web traffic — admin @ 11:53 am

Despite years of surfing and investigating the web, I still find some of the habits of its users surprising. I spent this morning reading Charles Leadbeater’s ‘We-Think’, one of the many books that are currently discussing the future of collaboration caused by new technologies. Whilst an enjoyable quick read, this post is not a book review, instead it is a reflection on one of the points made in the book: “The British political website that gets the most traffic belongs to the British National Party: racists are not given room to express their views on television so they use the Internet to promote and organise themselves.”

Although I know the BNP has a web site, and have visited it more than once, I was nonetheless shocked to be told it is the political web site with the most traffic. As Leadbeater provided no reference for the statement, I decided to have a look for myself.

Whilst the sites that provide traffic information are notoriously unreliable, both Alexa and Compete provide the same picture. The BNP’s traffic seems to be larger than the UK’s major political parties, as well as some of the smaller ones who may have found it equally difficult to express the opinions in traditional news sources (e.g., greenparty.org.uk, ukip.org, respectcoalition.org, and the extremely un-mainstream natural-law-party.org.uk).

It is healthy to see, however, that British Parliament still commands a healthy lead over the BNP, and personally I would view that as a political web site:

Personally I hope that the majority of visitors to the BNP site are approaching them as an antiquated curiosity whose policies shock and disgust, rather than as a site with which they relate. Maybe these statistics give credence to the opinion that has been expressed elsewhere, that whilst the mainstream media state that they abhor the policies of the BNP they do give the small party far more exposure than they really should.

September 13, 2007

Not even E-voting could help Burnley

Filed under: BNP,e-voting — admin @ 9:15 am

The British National Party has won the right for a recount for a seat they lost in the May council elections.

Every time there is an election the media always discusses the possibility of incorporating some form of electronic voting. Depending on the proposed system under discussion it is thought likely to increase participation, speed-up the counting process, decrease the number of spoiled ballot papers, and provide a more accurate result. Whilst that is great in theory, at the end of the day people are still going to make stupid decisions and vote for parties like the BNP out of fear and ignorance.

Maybe we should be making voting more difficult so that the sort of person who would vote for the BNP would fail to correctly fill in the ballot paper.

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