Has Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fallen for one of those “Facebook to start charging” hoaxes?
Abe found himself the butt of the joke in parliament this week after slipping up on the subject of social media. The prime minister proudly told the House of Councillors on Wednesday that of course, he pays his Facebook and Twitter membership fees.
When Democratic Party politician Tsutomu Okubo asked Abe the question in an exchange during a budget meeting on Wednesday, he was clearly hoping to catch him out. And he succeeded.
Okubo first asked if the prime minister operates his social media accounts himself, to which Abe stated that he has help from staff, but the content of the tweets is all him. “My personal account, that one’s run by myself and my staff, basically I decide what we’re going to post about,” he told the assembly.
Next, Okubo asked with a cheeky smirk on his face: “And have you ever paid Twitter and Facebook service fees?”
He must have been delighted when the prime minister walked right into his trap, replying that yes, of course he pays his fees.
▼ Okubo looking pleased with his clever question.
Like many world leaders, Abe has two sets of social media accounts, one under his own name, and an official account of the administration of the prime minister (the Kantei). He told the assembly that the fees on personal accounts are the responsibility of the individual:
“Of course, I pay my own fees for my personal social media accounts. But as for the Kantei accounts [the office of the PM], that’s paid for by the Kantei.”
Smiling, Okubo went on to explain what every schoolchild in this day and age knows: that Facebook and Twitter are free to use. For everyone. When he continued to poke the prime minister, asking, “Who are you paying these fees to, then?” there was audible laughter around the room.
▼ Even Abe’s team looked amused at the blunder.
Abe rose again to counter with:
“I don’t actually know about the details of how it works. I decide the content of the posts and my staff do the rest. I think that’s to be expected really.”