I was struck by this comment made by David Cameron during his Skype call with Mark Zuckerberg:
Normally if Government wants to engage with people we’d probably spend millions of pounds, even billions, on our own website, and with your help we’re basically getting this public engagement for free.
This is revealing in two ways:
- Making Facebook the government’s “primary” communications method for debating with the public is being driven by the fact it’s free, not because it will actually result in anything useful.
- Cameron seems to think it could cost the government “even billions” of pounds on a website to engage the public.
That last point is demonstrably untrue.
Notwithstanding Cameron getting a bit carried away because he was talking to one of the kool kids, and therefore exaggerating in a playground-like manner, it does hint at Cameron’s mindset when it comes to whether government should or shouldn’t be leading debates with the public, or whether other providers (probably private ones) could be doing it for them.