If this isn’t a sign of the times, I don’t know what is. The President of Chile, Sebastian Piñera, invited 15 top Twitter users to have lunch at the presidential palace last week, and discussed issues of national importance with these 140 character gurus.
Global Voices Online reports that Piñera chose 15 influential Twitter users to come to the palace for a 2 hour lunch on August 24th, the day that a Chilean labor union was calling for a national strike.
However, the lunch, rather than being touted as an embrace of the power of social media, was the focus of much criticism.
Many questioned just how the President chose those 15 Twitter users out of all of the Chilean tweeters out there. The users ranged from having 3,000 followers to over 40,000, and their Klout scores ranged from 58 to 78.
Those who were unhappy with the selection of these 15 users complained that there was no explanation of how their “influence” was measured, and that their views do not represent other Chilean Twitter users.
Others noted, often ironically, that the President chose to hold the Twitter lunch on the same day as the national strike, in order to distract the nation from the strike.
And still others asserted that those influential Twitter users who “sold out” to attend the sham lunch would quickly see their influence decline.
Despite this meeting appearing to be a positive step toward acknowledging how important social media has become to governments, public sentiment towards it was decidedly negative. If governments want to have a meaningful relationship with social networkers, it looks like they’ll have to be more sincere in their efforts.