An interesting news that I saw today concerns the deputy speaker of the Lower House in the UK, Lindsay Hoyle, who ruled that MPs are not allowed to tweet during sessions, after a complaint by the opposition Labour MP Kevin Brennan that Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert was tweeting.
Intuitively this makes sense, and so the statement attributed by the same article to Mr Hoyle : “I am sure no honorable member will be tweeting from the chamber to let the outside world know what is going on”.
On the other hand, according to that article, mobile email is allowed. Also, doesn’t the content of a parliamentary debate constitute a public record?
If this is the case, one might argue that both emailing and tweeting during sessions is not bad. After all, don’t conference attendees tweet during conferences so that people who did not pay a registration fee can get some of the content? I doubt conference organizers complain too much about that and on the contrary they track how much their sessions have been tweeted about.
And what if the MP is just reading tweets about the topic that is being debated? Isn’t that providing him or her a better and richer context to inform the debate? If tweets are disallowed, so should be emails and even access to the Internet.
I guess there is no easy answer, but this exposes how hard it is to deal with the disruptive impact of social media, in places as diverse as classrooms, government offices and – indeed – parliaments.