Since the start of the economic crisis in Greece in 2009 (which is part of the on-going European debt crisis) Greek young people are continuously facing rising unemployment rates, widespread insecurity and social exclusion. In particular, although the Greek government has been pressured to restructure Greek employment and social systems under the European Employment Strategy, youth unemployment rate in Greece is currently nearly 60% and Greek young people have only two options; to wait for the “miracle” that will make their life restart or just choose to move abroad in order to ensure better conditions for their lives.
At the same time last years the use of Social Media has been given a high rise in Greece with Twitter being the third most popular medium in the start of 2018 but with a very lower rate related to the most popular medium which is Facebook. In particular Facebook has been reported as by far as the most popular Social Medium in Greece (86.32%), followed by Pinterest (5.31%) and Twitter (3.14%). Moreover, according to a recent report published by the Reuters Institute in 2017, Greece is characterized by “high use of social media for news and extreme fragmentation of the online news market”.
But what do Greek people talk about in Twitter? Affected by the economic crisis the public discourse in Greece during the last years is mainly focused on the causes, consequences and ways to confront the crisis. This fact is also mirrored in Twitter which young people use to (not extensively however) conduct, among others, political discussions.
The Greek pilot is used in the project to promote political discussions between policy makers and young people in a country fully affected by the financial crisis during the last years. In addition, Greece is a country ranked relatively low according to the UN’s eParticipation index (EPI). In particular, Greece’s EPI was significantly decreased in 2016 (rank 61) related to 2014 (rank 17). Moreover, according to an OECD report less than 10% of citizens had taken part in an online consultation or voting for civic or political issues. There is a need, hence, to enhance eParticipation in Greece and bridge the gap between Greek policy makers and (young) people.
In order to address the aforementioned challenges, the Greek pilot of the #ask project employed Twitter as a powerful tool for connecting Greek policy makers and young people. In particular the pilot used the #ask Dashboard to broker political discussions on Twitter for the period March 2016 – April 2018. Discussions were brokered in regular time intervals (e.g. once or twice a day). In addition, three workshops were organized to train people on how to act as Twitter discussion brokers. Finally, the pilot’s efforts and results were presented in a number of events including international conferences and exhibitions.
The Twitter handle of the Greek pilot is @ASK_youth_GR.
The content of most brokered discussions of the Greek pilot regard the economic crisis in Greece. Additional topics that brokered discussion are relevant to include Sexual orientation & gender equality; NEETs’ Inclusion & Participation (e.g. socio-economic, cultural); Immigration & Migration; Environment; Terrorism; Education & Employment; EU (dis)integration; Democracy & human rights; Health. So far, the Greek pilot discovered more than 200 Twitter handles of policy makers and 600 Twitter handles of young people, all of them active in Twitter and interested in the topic categories selected by the project. In particular, Twitter handles related to policy makers may regard Twitter accounts of Greek political parties or individual policy makers and Twitter handles related to young people may regard Twitter accounts of National Youth Councils, members of National Youth Councils, youth network organisations, NGOs or individual young people. Using the #ask Dashboard, the Greek pilot has brokered more than 650 discussions among the identified Twitter handles. Often the brokered contributions also contained infographics in order to be more attractive. A screenshot of a popular brokered contribution is presented in the following figure. Finally, the Greek brokered discussions managed to induce more than 1300 replies, 700 likes and 750 retweets.