Live Cattle Trade: The Case of an Online Crisis

Donald Alexander, Sharon Schoenmaker

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This paper examines the 2011 live export cattle crisis and how the use of social media to express outrage forced the Australian Government to change its policy. The case is used to illustrate that social media is a powerful tool the government cannot ignore. We argue that social media is now a field where all stakeholders can engage in open and transparent debate with elected officials with a view to effecting change. For governments, crisis management must now include strategies for arguing their case in the court of public opinion online and engaging directly with stakeholders to influence the direction and duration of the crisis. When governments fail to respond and engage online, voters take action. This is nowhere better illustrated when ABC Television's Four Corners programme broadcast dramatic footage of Australian cattle being slaughtered in Indonesia contrary to government standards creating a political, economic and social media storm. Large numbers of Facebook sites were created about this issue, seeking the cessation of exports. The federal government reacted to this pressure by temporarily banning live exports.This paper explores the role and power of social media in influencing crises and driving political change and decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-21
Number of pages5
JournalSocial Alternatives
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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