Volunteer digital advocate tries to moderate political chatter online

Ms Jenny Wee, a grassroots leader in the South West district, is a digital advocate - someone who cares enough about politics to voluntarily devote time and energy in the hope of making a difference.
Ms Jenny Wee, a grassroots leader in the South West district, is a digital advocate - someone who cares enough about politics to voluntarily devote time and energy in the hope of making a difference.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

Over the course of this year, Ms Jenny Wee has gone online dozens of times with the express purpose of defending a politician.

The 39-year-old mother of three and owner of two businesses is a digital advocate - someone who cares enough about politics to voluntarily devote time and energy in the hope of making a difference.

Ms Wee, a grassroots leader in the South West district, said she was approached by an MP at the beginning of the year.

"She asked me to help out and I agreed because I felt I needed to take a stand for the sake of my children," she said.

Ms Wee, who previously set up a parenting forum, is no stranger to managing online conflicts.

"I know the power of being a credible person on the Internet. So I always use my personal account when speaking to others or replying to comments," she said.

 

The digital consultants will typically inform her and other advocates when an inaccurate article is picking up steam.

But she reacts only if she feels strongly about a particular issue, such as policies regarding foreign worker inflows.

"Many opposition supporters like to say nothing is being done to stem the supply of such workers, but I share my pains as a small-business owner. This helps give them a balanced view."

She has also defended ministers who have been mocked for rally speeches, and recounted to her friends personal anecdotes about candidates in their constituency who she had met.

"I tell my friends my first impressions of the candidate," she said. "Hopefully, they would have thought about it when they cast their votes.

"The unfortunate thing is that negative content goes viral quickly. Anything good, sadly, is harder to share. But sometimes, we are able to help put much-needed context in negative posts before they get popular."

She also stressed the need to be sceptical of information on social media. "Perception is unfortunately more powerful than the truth. It is best to spend a bit of effort to verify what we read online before jumping to conclusions."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 27, 2015, with the headline 'Volunteer digital advocate tries to moderate political chatter online'. Print Edition | Subscribe