October 24, 2015

Politicians fail in social media management... Zone9 bloggers finally free [social updates this week]

Politicians' use of social media is a pet subject of IndianTopBlogs. In the present post, we show how even digitally well-prepared politicians are poor in social media management.

Arun Jaitley, a leading Indian politician and currently India's Finance Minister, has been using social media rather well. In the last 10 days, he has used it for articulating government stand on three major topics. On 14th October, he criticized the protest and return of awards by many authors against what they saw as government's inaction in checking spread of communal hatred in the country.  On 18th October, he wrote a piece on a significant judgement of the Supreme Court striking down a recently enacted law that gave executive a role in selection of top judges. On 20th, he made a fervent appeal for debate and eschewing violence to settle difference of opinion in the society.

Jaitley is perhaps the best parliamentary debater in India. He has been defending his government's actions as convincingly as he used to tear apart the government's decisions when he was the Leader of Opposition till a year back.

He used Facebook for his first two utterances and an interview for TV and YouTube, for the third. 

Arun Jaitley's website, essentially a blog, used to be his main platform for discussion on serious topics till January 2015, which he has ignored totally in the last 10 months.

Jaitley's Twitter account has links to these bigger articles / interview but some of these links do not open. The ones that open have no proper anchor text or intro.

If the decision to embrace Facebook and Twitter was taken with the understanding that these platforms gave better visibility and fast transmission of message, he might be right in choosing these. But we have reasons to differ. Our take:

The lengthy debates should first have been posted on the blog/ website. Linking these with his Facebook page and Twitter would have achieved no less than what has been achieved. In addition, the blog would have remained relevant and not suddenly become obsolete. What we see instead is a poor social media strategy for a public personality.

It is understood that Jaitley, holding the charge of Information & Broadcasting Minister also, has a complement of staff to look after his social media campaigns. They should have done proper linking and promotion of his speech / articles. At least the cross-links should have been given with better application of mind. The interview should have been cross-promoted with a brief description, anchor links and so on. If they area any good, they should apply sound principles of managing the social media for a political boss. They have failed not only in technical aspects; their advice to jump to social networking sites for a quick broadcast might lead this politician in trouble.

Ethiopian bloggers finally free

A few days back, Ethiopean bloggers who have been in prison since April 2014 on charge of terrorism have been acquitted by a court. The 6 bloggers and 3 journalists, calling themselves Zone9, had been detained last year; 5 were released earlier this year and 3 have been set free now after 539 days of jail. The last one, though acquitted of terrorism charge, still faces the charge of inciting violence. 

The travails of these bloggers started when they began writing critically about human rights abuses, corruption and other governance issues. 


The Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit organization, has named Ethiopia as one of the most censored countries in the world. The Wikipedia page of Zone9 says, Ethiopian government keeps a leash on web media through the only internet service provider though the country's constitution guarantees freedom of expression. 

Despite all censors, #freezone9bloggers remained the most trending topic in Ethiopia for over a year. The imprisonment of bloggers also became a rallying point for government critics.