General Elections 2014 in India, A Litmus Test for Social Media

Social media in India is an evolving trend, and this general elections result might start a new discourse for elections to come. However, it will be interesting to wait and watch, whether the popular online sentiments, and the millions likes, thousands of share and million tweets can translates into REAL VOTES .

Communicate Karo

This  General Elections 2014  in India is going to be a litmus test for Social Media too, other than the traditional political rhetoric .  The expansion  & reach of social media platforms have grown phenomenally in last five years in India.  In  General Elections, held in year  2009,  social media has no influence & reach . In  General Election in 2014, social media is buzzword among politicians and electorate alike.  For many of the electoral battle in urban  India,  Face book likes and Tweets  will be a deciding factor in winning or losing of a candidate.

General Elections 2014- A social Media Litmus test

According to a report published in April 2013 by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and the Mumbai-based Iris Knowledge Foundation, Face book users will “wield a tremendous influence” over the results of the polls in 160 social media sensitive constituencies of India’s 543 parliamentary  constituencies.

 The two popular social…

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Who stole cities, states and India’s “official” twitter username ?

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.

twitter theif

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.

 

Ahmedabad Bangalore delhi India Kolkaata

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.

Gandhinagar mayor gets FB likes from Turkey

TOI,AHMEDABAD: For the record, it’s not only Congress biggies like Ajay Maken and Digvijaya Singh who enjoy a strong ‘fan following’ in Turkey. Gandhinagar mayor Mahendrasinh Rana, who recently shifted loyalties to the BJP, also has a huge fan base in Istanbul with more than 50,000 ‘likes’ on his Facebook page from Turkey’s capital city. But one may ask, how come the Gandhinagar mayor has a fan base in that city larger than Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas’ who has just 411 likes and six people talking about his Facebook page?

Rana started his Facebook account, ‘Mayor of Gandhinagar Mahendrasinh Rana’, in June this year and has already garnered 50,274 likes with 10,235 people talking about it. Almost 90% of Rana’s ‘likes’ were garnered in the early weeks of July, after which they declined in August. Rana also maintains another page on Facebook which is believed to be his personal page. Mahendrasinh Rana could not be contacted on phone for his comments, despite several attempts.

Last month, 34% of Maken’s 99,154 likes were from Istanbul and 24 per cent from Russia. In the case of Digvijay Singh, out of 4,636 likes garnered by his Facebook page last month, nearly 53.7% were acquired from Istanbul.

“There are many websites where one can buy ‘likes’ on Facebook and ‘followers’ on Twitter. These firms are called ‘third parties’ in social media terminology, who open email accounts in huge numbers and use them to create Facebook and Twitter accounts. Every like on FB page costs a little less than Rs 4,” said Parthesh Patel, who handles some pages of Gujarat Congress.

PS: The Article sourced from Times of India, Ahmedabad written by Paul John (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Gandhinagar-mayor-gets-FB-likes-from-Turkey/articleshow/22176897.cms)