The controversy last week after election results over the Twitter handle of departing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office, @PMOIndia, underscores an important fact – that Twitter is an institution, not just a company. When Twitter went public, I had written that governments may do well to subscribe to its share issue, because it was becoming more of a public institution.
The company is still to impress investors on revenues, but is a force to reckon with among international leaders, with greetings being exchanged on the micro-blogging site becoming a new form of protocol and bonhomie.
Strangely, when Singh’s office shut down the PMOIndia handle, an uproar arose. The controversy acquired a comic edge when a Lucknow youngster managed to get the handle for a while. Things did reach a meaningful conclusion, with the tweets of the old prime minister being archived under a new handle @PMOIndiaArchive and made available under the Right to Information Act for the future.
I think the outgoing government did the right thing by shutting down the handle and archiving it. Web content has a lasting quality, and it would have been weird for the same handle to tweet something contradictory to the old government under a new one. But the switchover the PMOIndia handle was done in a shoddy manner.
Twitter needs to set in motion processes for verified accounts and government handles so that it sees itself in a mould that it is already seen by the public – as an international institution of the 21st Century!after Francis had laid a wreath on the grave of Theodore Herzl, founder of modern Zionism.