Recently, the country of Sweden has taken a unique approach to Twitter.
In short, the country is picking a new citizen each week to run their twitter account – @Sweden. The government initiative entrusts the country’s Twitter account to a new citizen every seven days, providing evidence to the world there really is no “typical Swede.”
And here’s example Number One.
Sonja, the woman who is currently taking the reins on the program, has some highly unusual opinions about Jewish and Gay people. It’s fair to say that not everybody in Sweden agrees with her feelings, and there has been spirited debate regarding her views. However, the operators of the program see no need to intervene.
“It’s very important for us to let everyone take a unique viewpoint,” said Tommy Sollén, Social Media Manager at VisitSweden. “Every one of our curators is there with a different perspective.”
This is interesting on multiple levels, perhaps most importantly with how free speech comes into play. One of the draws of social media is voicing opinions, unfiltered, without fear of reprimand. While you can’t make serious threats against government or people, almost everything else goes. If you don’t like a certain race or religion – you’re free to express your opinion. For better or worse – social media allows anyone and everyone a forum to voice their personal viewpoints. The controversy, however, centers around the fact that this is a government-backed initiative.
Whether the government takes action or not remains to be seen, but the feed is certainly getting a lot of attention. They have more than 46,000 followers and have had articles written about them as far away as Brazil. The story, and the media exposure it’s received, provide further evidence of the power of social media.
After all, we’re talking about Sweden’s twitter handle, aren’t we?