Facebook, UK govt collaborate on public spending cuts

9 Jul 2010

Facebook and the UK government are collaborating on a landmark initiative aimed at making public spending more effective. Called ‘The Spending Challenge’, it is part of the UK’s efforts to have honest dialogue with its 26 million subjects who use Facebook.

The move comes the same day as Siliconrepublic revealed that the Irish Government is about to unveil a new social media-led public news service called MerrionStreet.ie which aims to use WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr tools to inform Irish citizens and media.

The ‘Spending Challenge’ in the UK will call on UK subjects to submit their feedback on policies that will directly affect them in this year’s public spending Budget.

“We’re really delighted to be in partnership with the British government, in order to harness the energy and ideas that Facebook users have to help the UK public save money,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO.

“The governments’ willingness to reach out and engage with Facebook users is going to go a long way because I’m sure that all the people using Facebook in the UK have a lot of great ideas on how they could do this. It’s really innovative to open up policy making and engage the public in this way to try and create more social change.”

‘The Spending Challenge’ will initially launch on the Democracy UK Facebook Page by linking Facebook users to microsites specially tailored to focus on key issues open for discussion and debate among the voting public.

From the Democracy UK Page, people can also easily navigate to Her Majesty’s Government website, where they’ll find information which will help people contribute informed opinions and actionable ideas.

The Democracy UK Page was Facebook’s home for discussion during the 2010 General Election campaign, with more than a million people participating in election day polls.  

“We are really excited about having Facebook involved in ‘The Spending Challenge’,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“There’s enormous civic spirit in this country where people want to take control and do things in a different way. We are giving people an opportunity with Facebook and I am sure that they will take it,” Cameron said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years