Hot news - Scott Morrison has taken to electronic graffiti. (And also, out of the mist, appears @MalcolmforPM.)
Morrison cruelly abandoned Twitter straight after the last federal election in 2013, but now he's back, baby. He's back! Several times in the last week.
His handful of pedestrian tweets is only significant because it's one way of differentiating himself from the Prime Minister, to whom Mr Morrison is extremely loyal. Extremely.
But it also illustrates that the writing is on the wall for the Prime Minister and for those who think that the only important territory in any election is the front page of the local tabloid.
Queensland voters woke last Thursday to the front page of their local paper, the Courier-Mail, which featured a photo of Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, who'd gone blank about the GST rate when asked on radio. It was a quiz, so she said pass.
Next to the image of Palaszczuk was this question: "Should I be premier?" The answer - at least according to the in-touch Courier Mail - was PASS. Pass up the opportunity to vote for her in their state election - a politician who didn't know the rate of the GST didn't deserve the vote of Queenslanders.
It was just one more gem in a seam of rich campaigning material, including the utterly inspired Bikies Back ALP for Power. Swear to god, if that didn't terrify Queenslanders nothing would.
In the past, that kind of shameless tabloid monstering struck terror into the hearts of those who worked for politicians. Those front pages are bold, brave, memorable. My absolute favourite for its sheer chutzpah was The Daily Telegraph's front page in 2013, "I Know Nuthink", which starred Anthony Albanese and Craig Thomson photoshopped as hapless Nazis (for those of you too young to know, that phrase was used in an ancient television program called Hogan's Heroes).
And it's this real estate - the front pages of the tabloids - that politicians will try to colonise. It's what they consider to be important in their warfare. This is the territory that matters, because they think it's what influences the voters.
I rang and emailed the editor of the Courier-Mail, Chris Dore, to get a response on the paper's coverage of the campaign. Nothing to me personally of course, but Monday's coverage continued to undermine the ALP with a photo of Palaszczuk and this question: Labor race to be ready to rule likely minority government: Now What.
It's probably as much a surprise to Dorey as it is to the Prime Minister. Knightmare was a complete misstep but it wasn't Tony Abbott's biggest error last week - that was reserved for his comments about social media.
He said: "Social media is kind of like electronic graffiti and I think that in the media, you make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social media."
Oops. Social media is the new pub. (Actually not that new anymore but, you know, like a pub in that you sit around saying shit you mightn't say at home which will come back to haunt you. But it's what you think and feel at that moment.)
Then he said: "You wouldn't report what's sprayed up on the walls of buildings - and look, as I said, social media has its place, but it's anonymous."
Oops. Some social media is anonymous but Facebook is doing its very best to make sure we are real people with real names. And in doing so, we connect even more strongly. Plus his analogy was also flawed because social networking is legal and so, so public to everyone.
And then: "It's often very abusive and, in a sense, it has about as much authority and credibility as graffiti that happens to be put forward by means of IT."
IT. Dear god. And yes, social media is abusive. Have you ever been in a pub? Talk about abusive.
The real problem for all of us is that Abbott is just saying in public what the other politicians are thinking privately - partly because most of them are so inauthentic it would be nearly impossible for them to connect with voters via social media. We, the voters, we talk back - we no longer have to wait for the ballot box to voice our displeasure and we build our communities of discontent in a place which is so visible.
Electronic graffiti matters more than politicians imagine. Axel Bruns, social media guru at the Queensland University of Technology, sifted through all the tweets in the week before the Queensland election. What he found confirms Abbott's ignorance about the way Australians relate to politicians. The Queensland ALP's politicians were far more likely to be mentioned or retweeted in the run up to the election that the politicians of the Liberal National Party. And the lovely folks at Twitter sifted through zillions of tweets for me on Sunday night to discover that in the 24 hours leading up to the polls, @AnnastaciaMP slaughtered @theqldpremier on Twitter; and then, in the polls. Campbell Newman had 17 per cent fewer mentions.
Politicians need to let go of the idea that they can tell voters what to think. We always knew what we thought - but now we have this place where we can share with people we barely know but whose values we share. And if those same politicians recognise this - and use social media for discussion rather than top-down ranting - they might gain our trust. And our votes. We voters don't want our beliefs manufactured by an organisation. We develop a consensus - and so far that consensus says universal health care, no sale of public assets, childcare before paid parental leave, affordable tertiary education. So much more. But you'd have to wonder what the Prime Minister's surveillance and analysis of social media is telling him. Does the government think it's just code on a page? Does it not recognise that there is real social meaning on Facebook (where most of us are - half of us visit every day) and even on Twitter.
Bruns suggests social media functions as a counterpublic; and his advice to anyone who wants to carve some space in civic engagement that they must be "present, active, engaged".
Turns out #electronicgraffiti is just the writing on the wall.
Twitter @jennaprice or email email@example.com
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.