Have you ever wondered who owns our cities & states username on twitter ? Interestingly, the twitter handles of all the major cities, states in India, including India are held by private individuals, commercial entities and most of them are either dormant, inactive, or for private views only.
Most shocking is that twitter handle @India is owned by an individual based in Guangzhou, China and runs a dubious looking e-commerce platform. He introduces the handle as ” Everything about India” with total number of 14,802 followers with paltry 100 tweets till date.
In this digital age, twitter username has slowly become synonymous with identity of an individual, celebrity, politician, company and organization who have active online presence. This is no different to countries and cities globally. People are googling with country and city handle to engage with authorities.
In an era, where a single tweet from a twitter handle with significance can create panic, political upheavals, endless TV debates among others social, economic and political repercussions. Twitter has become a platform for public diplomacy & public engagement.
Who owns Indian Metro Cities & States Twitter Handle ?
The twitter handle of all the metro cities in India including Delhi, capital city of the country are owned by unknown individuals or e-commerce platforms.
The twitter handle @delhi, of India’s capital city has no identity and the tweets are most promotional tweets on real estate. The twitter handles of both the IT hubs in the country @Bangalore and @Hyderabad has no single tweet to its name and are owned by unknown individuals. The twitter handle of @Mumbai introduces itself as gateway to India with 3958 followers but mere 108 tweets till date, mostly a dormant one. And the @Kolkaata twitter handle seems to be owned by an individual from Spain who tweets in Spanish language.
The story remains same with state name and their twitter handles. None of the state government owns the official twitter account in their name. It is always complicated to identify and contact twitter account holder as neither they share information online nor they respond to public mention of then in tweets. However, with sustained effort states can the username back.
Cities, state and country twitter Username are virtual Identity of the Place.
The city’s official twitter handle has an immense value in disseminating right information, creating engagement with citizens & tourists, can be used majorly during disasters, branding many other uses and also for dispelling rumours in time of the need. It can be single source of channel to spread the information on social media platform.
According to Burson-Marsteller, a globally recognized communication firm observes that quote “Why is it so important to register one’s country Twitter handle? On Twitter every letter counts.Secondly, who should have the right to the country name if not the government or the official tourism organization? And finally having the country’s Twitter handle improves search engine ranking since Twitter handles have a high Google page rank and almost always appear on the first two Google result pages.”
Government Concerned To Control over Social Media Than Making Best Use of It.
Sadly, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting(MIB) has done naught to reclaim the “official” twitter handles from the imposters. However, MIB has been proactive in blocking twitter handles for political reasons.
The political parties both in ruling and opposition at centre and state level in India are hitching to the social media bandwagon to popularize and promote their party to garner crucial votes. However, there seems to be no earnest approach from the Central Government to retrieve back the twitter handle @india which can be a powerful branding medium for India and also a tool to disseminate right information in the masses.
Globally, cities and country are fighting legally and politically to get hold of the official twitter handle. However, The government in India, both at state & central level are focused on political opportunism on social media than using its amplifying power to change the daily lives of its citizens.
There are 160 million Indian internet users and 86 million of them go online on their mobile devices and more than 50 per cent of them are active on social media platforms.
Only Nine Nations Own National Twitter handles: study
According to a study by In “Twiplomacy”, Only nine out of the 193 U.N. member states own Twitter accounts bearing their country’s name, and only three of those accounts have been officially verified by the microblogging site, Twitter.
Only the @GreatBritain, @Israel and @SouthAfrica handles were verified by Twitter as official accounts run by the countries’ governments or tourism boards.
The Twitter accounts of Antigua Barbuda, Barbados, Lithuania, the Maldives and Spain are also run by their respective tourism organizations to promote tourism in the countries, the study showed.
Twitter’s no Official Stand on Impersonation of City/State/Country username
Twitter defines username or handle as “Must be unique and contain fewer than 15 characters. Is used to identify you on Twitter for replies and mentions.” Twitter states in its ‘Name Squatting Policy‘ “that we will not release inactive or squatted usernames except in cases of trademark infringement.” And in case of company is being impersonated or a trademarked brand is being misused, Twitter states that Companies and businesses should report accounts misusing their trademarks or brand by filing a complaint under their Trademark Policy.
However, there is no mention of Twitter Policy on when cities, states or countries username gets impersonated.
Call For Action :Government of India should pro actively write to Twitter Authorities to get the India username back.