It’s hard to believe now, but we used to use all sorts of different social networking apps back in the day, before the Matt Hancock app changed everything. Now you can’t stop the youths of Britain from Hancocking each other on Hancock messenger, or checking in on the whereabouts of the eponymous MP for West Suffolk on the Hancock Livestream. We all know that one couple that met on the app (however much they pretend they met at a bar) and can any of us really forget the moment that the President of the United States declared war on Denmark during a particularly furious midnight Hancocking spree…
…OK, so it’s probably not going to take over the world, and Mark Zuckerberg won’t be having sleepless nights, but is the Matt Hancock app essentially a good idea? After all, anything that keeps constituents and the wider public abreast of their Minister’s work is surely worth exploring. Who is more well placed than the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary to experiment with new technology?
I see some potential in the app, but before I become a full-on Fancock (I’m so sorry…), I do have a few questions:
1. Why is there no real-names policy?
Internet campaigners have been pushing for a real-names policy on all social media platforms for years. The idea is that anonymous handles on networks like Twitter provide a cloak of invisibility for abusive users, allowing them to bully and attack fellow members without any fear of being identified or brought to justice. Facebook has embraced this policy in an effort to stem trolling on the network (with some notable slip ups along the way). Why doesn’t the DCMS Secretary’s app also follow this sensible policy? From a few minutes on the platform I’ve managed to spot 11 different Theresa Mays, 12 Boris Johnsons and, yes, inevitably, 12 Matt Hancocks.
2. Are messages on Matt Hancock encrypted?
We all know the Home Secretary’s opinion of end-to-end encryption (the practise that keeps users information mathematically un-hackable, but leaves law enforcement unable to access the data of potential criminals). It’s a controversial topic, but one that the majority in the tech industry have a shared opinion on – that encryption keeps data safe, and that to create a backdoor for Government would fundamentally undermine the security of all online communication. The Matt Hancock app, amazingly, also has an internal messaging function. Will the messages I send to my nearest and dearest be safe from hackers? Will all Matt Hancock communiques be run through GCHQ? Only Mr Hancock knows…
3. Is this a good idea?
I’m sorry to say this, but like most social networks, it’s likely the Matt Hancock app will face a dwindling userbase followed by either purchase or closure. Would it have been better for Matt to embrace the existing social platforms rather than create one of his own? Perhaps. But has he shown a willingness to innovate and experiment with this new project – undoubtedly – which can’t be a bad thing for the man in charge of our nation’s cultural output.
All we know at PLMR is that as a full spectrum digital team, we would be delighted to help any client find a voice on this exciting new platform (anything to win the coveted “Best Use of Matt Hancock” at the CorpComms Awards)!