Berlusconi breaks news on Facebook

Silvio Berlusconi's Facebook page.

Bob Moon: Before Silvio Berlusconi became the prime minister of Italy, he was a billionaire media mogul. So when he wanted to announce today that he wasn't stepping down as prime minister, he used Facebook.

"The rumors of my resignation," he wrote, "are unfounded."

One line on Facebook was enough to move the markets in Europe. But Marketplace's Steve Henn wondered how effective it will be in the end.


Steve Henn: Why would a man who owns his own TV networks make a major political announcement on Facebook?

Scott Galloway's a social media expert at NYU. He says Berlusconi is famously obsessed with youth.

Scott Galloway: Facebook has become the corporate equivalent of skinny jeans -- anybody who uses Facebook thinks they look younger, hipper and more relevant.

Galloway says there is a time and place to be hip -- and this ain't it.

Galloway: I don't think you would have seen Obama or Merkel decide to make this sort of decision and announce it Facebook.

OK, maybe not. Allen Webber, a social media consultant at the Altimeter Group, says there can be an upside to this approach.

Allen Webber: You can reach so many people with one message; it was so much faster and so much more direct than anything else.

But Webber says when leaders go social in a crisis, it's a bit like pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz -- you might not like what you see.

Right now, global investors don't want an Italian leader fiddling with his Facebook page. They want somebody who can lead the country and balance the budget.

In Silicon Valley, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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