On the 1st of January 2016, it was calculated that 9.3 million people living in France are between 18 and 29 years old, which amounts to 14% of the population.
The youth unemployment rate stood at 22.6% halfway through 2017, according to recent figures from the Ministry of Labour. In addition to this, young people also had a hard time bringing their voices to the political sphere, excluding them from democratic debate. Yet it is young people who use social media the most, tools that are also being used by politicians.
So why Twitter? Since social media is very popular among young people, #ASK decided to use Twitter – an outlet often described as being the Internet’s text-messaging platform – to reach its 300 million users and engage in political participation. More than half of Twitter’s users are under 30 years old.
In France, a vast amount of Twitter users reacted to a new legislation that would potentially reduce housing benefits by 5 euros.
During the 2017 presidential elections in France, the abstention rate in the second round reached 34% among 18-24 year olds and up to 40% among 25-34 year olds.
In order to put youth back at the heart of political debate, #ask aims to connect young citizens with their policy makers across Europe using Twitter. The goal is simple: empower young people to take part in democratic debates through online participation.
#ask is a mediator that connects policy makers and young Europeans on thematic issues. It is innovative in the sense that it breaks the traditional top-down communication scheme, allowing young people to really get involved in political debate.
According to Eurostat, young people under the age of 25 will make up one quarter of the working force by 2050. While social media use is prevalent among young people, less than a quarter of them participate in online political discussion forums. Specialised platforms are rarely adapted to youth and don’t reach a large number of users. Through its model of participatory democracy, #ask democratises the debate by ensuring that politicians and decision-makers take into account the views and opinions of young people. The scope of themes discussed is diverse: gender issues, economy, immigration, the environment, education, terrorism, Europe, democracy and health.
Each pilot had the privilege to be trained in how to use #ask. As part of the #ask project, Cafébabel participated in several events, such as the festival Youth We Can or the Digital Democracy Day.
Cafe Babel succeeded in recreating the debate between young people and their policy makers. This was the goal that was set out to achieve, and Cafe Babel did it! #ask has received more than 600 tweets, 326 answers, 207 re-tweets, 513 likes, followed the work of 332 politicians and engaged with more than 1,500 young people.
Some of our best tweets focused on the World Refugee Day, the evolution of welfare taxes for employers, feminist movements such as #BalanceTonPorc and #MeToo and the Lactalis health scandal.
The following tweet about sexual orientation and gender equality had a huge number of impressions.
The following tweets about the Lactalis health scandal also gained 2.0% engagement rate.
Finally, the following “feeling European” twee got 4% engagement rate.