July 19, 2014

Social media updates

A number of notable things have taken place while we were busy compiling our Platinum Ranks – the topmost blogs in the Indian blogosphere. We were alive to these developments but could not share them with you. Thought, lets catch up. 


INDIAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICIANS EMBRACING SOCIAL MEDIA

Many government organisations and politicians have joined the social media, thanks to the push given and example set by Narendra Modi. 

Some Ministers have opened new accounts, mostly on Facebook, and some have oriented their content from political to ministry-related. You can now see Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Smriti Irani and even a low-profile Radha Mohan Singh regularly on Facebook.

Enforcement Directorate is also on Twitter!  The agency will give information on its activities including ‘notable actions taken against forex and money laundering offences’.

The President of India, who was already on Facebook, has opened a Twitter account. He (or his office) has been rather active on Twitter. Seeing the tweets, you feel that Indian President is one of the busiest heads of state on the earth.

UP’s CM Akhilesh Yadav already has his personal Twitter account. He has recently opened one Twitter account for his office and one for UP government; these are almost replica of each other, but, yes, are there on the scene. He has also asked all his Ministries to be active on social media, but with restrictions. 

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah made a big entry into the web world this month by announcing a website and social networking accounts, but these are not operative due to some technical glitches. If reports are to be believed, his Facebook and Twitter accounts and WhatsApp number have been either compromised or faked. Remember, he is the CM of the state that has headquarters or India offices of many IT giants.

Jairam Ramesh opened a blog (jairam-ramesh.in) but the link is now dead. If you have forgotten him, he was a much-maligned (by industrialists) environment minister and an energetic minister for rural development (where he made sanitation a big issue) in the Indian federal government. A smart minister in UPA government and know to be very pally with the mainline media, he has been very late on the social media. Hope, being out of office, he will be able to utilise his energy and time on serious thinking; his takes so far,  since he opened the blog last month, are good reads on economic matters.


SOCIAL MEDIA UNDER OBSERVATION


Government of India is now tracking social media very intensely. One, for publicity and feedback purposes, and two, for intelligence gathering. It is reported that the Information & Broadcasting Ministry has been given the task by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to brief it about what good and bad is being shared across various web platforms. The Ministry sends such analytical reports to PMO many times a day. It is also reported that the government is strengthening its systems to track all social media conversations from intelligence angle so that it knows in time what action is required on criminal and anti-social social engagements. 

About a month back, some Pune youth created a Facebook group, Social Peace Force. In the words of the group founders, it is ‘Simply... a Youth Group to stop Anti-Social Messages on FB! We will not LIKE or Comment but will "REPORT SPAM"!’. It already has over 28,000 members!


THE OLD SOCIAL MEDIA ORDER CHANGETH

Orkut, which gave us the first taste of social networking a decade back, is closing down on 30th September.  Google, the owner of Orkut, says in its blog, “Over the past decade, YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off, with communities springing up in every corner of the world. Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut's growth, we've decided to bid Orkut farewell (or, tchau). We'll be focusing our energy and resources on making these other social platforms as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them.” To be frank, it was not Google’s zeal to promote other platforms but the fast rise of Facebook and Twitter that made the pioneer and one-time giant give up.

The New York Times has closed its blog specifically on India, called India Ink, which ran for about three years, covering major happenings in India.  The paper says, “We will continue to produce web-only India Ink sketches, analyses, narratives and news stories, but they will appear on the World page, along with the rest of the newspaper’s coverage.” 
Why, you might ask. We copy a quote from a NYT staffer as reported in the Free Press Journal: “Now it’s gone. These days, that kind of specificity is no longer the way The Times wants to direct its resources – at least not in the form of a blog.” Resource crunch is also reported to be the reason for this; so there is nothing geo-political about the move.