Govt wakes up to the power of social media, begins monitoring

NEW DELHI: Stung by the campaigns on the social media both in the Delhi gang rape case as well as on the India-Pakistan exchange of fire on the Line of Control, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has set up a group to monitor the various social media channels on the internet.

While the anti-corruption campaign and gang rape messages on the social media showed how people could be mobilised to come onto the streets, the campaign relating to the killing of two Indian soldiers also exposed the fragility of this medium to creating tensions between nations.

It is learnt that the group has been instructed to give a weekly report to I&B Minister Manish Tewari on what the social media is saying on crucial issues. The team is tracking all social media including Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

The ministry has not just begun monitoring the social media channels, but also increased its own presence on the internet. Even as it had earlier launched a page on Facebook on digitisation, the ministry as well as All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD) have created separate accounts on Twitter.

The ministry also launched itself on YouTube late last year and publicised this at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in November. This can be downloaded on android phones and will soon be made available on other smart phones through a special download application.

India has over 120 million Internet users - Twitter has about 16 million subscribers and Facebook over 60 million from India. The penetration of 3G will mean more exchange of data. Mobile sales may soon touch the 250 million mark in India.

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