• The United States federal government shutdown that began at 12:00 a.m. on October 1 has had many consequences that were anticipated such as the furlough of 800,000 non-essential government workers.
• But a few unexpected and, perhaps even unprecedented consequences are taking place on social media.
Social Media is a source of information about the Shutdown
• Many people haven’t been directly affected by the shutdown but you can bet that all Americans have been affected indirectly in one way or another.
• Tourists who were planning to visit national parks and monuments have been forced to cancel or postpone their trips due to the shutdown.
• Many, including international observers are visiting the social media sites of various federal agencies to learn more about how the shutdown will affect service provision and also to air their views.
• A lot of these federal agencies are currently only able to provide vital services due to the shutdown and are using social media to reassure the public and keep them updated on the latest information relating to this issue.
Those affected are using social media to vent
• The shutdown has definitely had a knock -on effect on social media. Social media has provided many of those affected with a formidable forum for airing their frustrations.
• 97% of NASA employees, for example, have been put on unpaid leave for the duration of the furlough, according to the agency’s Twitter account.
• This has caused a huge influx of shutdown related tweets, Facebook posts, and heated discussions on many other social media forums.
• A lot of protagonists on either side of the shutdown debate have also taken to social media to explain and defend their hardline positions or to try and shift blame to the other side.
• They are also keenly following the ongoing shutdown debate on social media as an aid to gauging the public’s mood and reaction to the whole fiasco.
• Many popular social media accounts belonging to the individuals or groups that have mostly been blamed for the shutdown, have been forced to go temporarily silent. This is due to the deluge of negative comments and insults that have been directed to their accounts since the shutdown began.
Many using Social Media to urge an end to the Shutdown
• A lot of political and business leaders who are worried about the shutdowns long-term effects have taken to social media to urge both sides to bring an end to this shutdown by negotiating.
• They are using Twitter and Facebook to urge politicians to vote on legislation devoted solely to reopening the government as they fear that failing to do so could eventually lead to the even bigger problem of the government defaulting on paying its bills.
• Many are also using social media to get signed petitions that may force an end to the shutdown.
• Social media is thus one of the most popular and cheapest ways to remain informed on the latest developments regarding the shutdown.