Gillard labelled ‘immoral’ and ‘Chairman Mao’ during Google+ Hangout

Prime Minister Julia Gillard took to social media to connect with constituents over the weekend, taking part in a Google+ Hangout, but was slammed by the internet community for being “wrong, unjust and immoral” and as domineering as “Chairman Mao”.

While the PM found her first Hangout to her liking, describing it as a great experience and not ‘artificial’, the YouTube community did not feel the same way. While the number of views hasn’t been enabled on the video posted to YouTube, the video had 940 dislikes too only 344 likes at time of publishing.

Online detractors were at work during the Hangout posting heated comments while the Hangout was in session, and the discussion continuing afterwards with one writing “Julia what you ‘feel is right’ is wrong, unjust and immoral” and another comparing Gillard to ‘Chairman Mao’.

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According to Google, the collaborative effort between Google+, Deakin University, Fairfax Media and Our Say, was viewed live by around 21,000 users when it aired at 11am on Saturday morning.

The Hangout was the latest effort to promote social network Google+, a goal that fits with government’s drive to connect with voters. Earlier in the year, President Barack Obama used the technology to field questions from Americans in a similar bid for engagement.

Gillard commented that her experience with the Hangout was better than she thought it was going to be. “It’s a great way of getting people to connect. I was worried that the technology was going to get in the way and feel artificial but it actually felt very engaged and like you were getting to know people.”

Google+ continues to slowly increase its reach of the online population in Australia, up from 7% in March to 9% in June, but still suffers from far lower time on site and page views than other social networks, according to Nielsen data.

Questions ranging from men’s mental health to obesity were chosen from questions over 2000 questions lodged on our, with more than 109,000 votes deciding which were the most popular issues to discuss during the Hangout.


  • k8tjay

    Did you get your journalism degree out of a Weeties packet? Reading the first two comments from a YouTube post and attributing them to the “internet community” is a bit lazy in terms of research don’t you think??

    Have a lovely day 🙂

    • Chris Byrne

      Thanks for your comment k8tjay. Perhaps we should have described it as the YouTube ‘community’ – 940 dislikes to 344 likes shows a high proportion of negative sentiment. We hope you have a lovely day too.

  • Matt F

    Hi Chris,

    Interesting piece. Love learning about the intersect between politics and marketing.

    It’s not unsurprising that a politician gets canned on social media. Most would have been watching that to see her squirm and/or address serious issues. I’m more surprised by the 344 likes than the 940 dislikes – I didn’t think that many people would register a positive for a politician.

    What would a politician (in Australia moreso than the US) have to do to get a positive response?

    9% penetration for Google+ shows that the eyeballs just aren’t there if you’re to be running social media campaigns.