Last weekend, I was taking part in a panel discussion on Doordarshan on social media, and it dawned suddenly as to how quickly Indian politics has adapted to Twitter, Facebook and other sites. Two days after Turkey blocked off Twitter, it was a delightful experience to be on a state-owned broadcaster, taking part in a programme in which the anchor encouraged more citizens to get active on social media.
Turkish authorities blocked Twitter late on Thursday, hours after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan vowed to "wipe out" the social media service during the campaigning period for local elections on March 30.
“Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping,” Erdogan’s office said.
Just a day earlier, in India, the Election Commission has said that it will monitor social media outpourings of various political parties to make sure they conform to the electoral code of conduct and the content they post is not “unlawful or malicious.” On the other hand, leading parties have deployed dozens of party insiders, sympathizers and supporters as a virtual social media army.
The simple fact is that in a democracy, you join the discourse, not block it. But in a world of social media trolling and false propaganda that involves morphed videos, fake statements and “photoshopped” images, it is not easy for the discerning communicators to lower themselves to joining what looks like a dogfight.
So it seems Doordarshan and the Election Commission are the “good cop” and “bad cop” in making India to adapt itself to social media. Perhaps New Delhi is setting a global precedent on the issue and Ankara can learn a thing or two from here to deal with citizens who talk Turkey!