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Tech blog

Power tweets

Social media is spreading like forest fire in the cities. Indian professionals from various walks of life – from journalists to actors -- are flocking to it like moths.

How are politicians, who seem to be immune to the charms of technology, taking to social media? Here is a quick walkthrough on what they do on Twitter.

The PMO woke up pretty late to the game and started tweeting only in January. The account has since gained 83,000 followers. Tweets are bland, mostly press releases on their way to Press Information Bureau. With 1.3 million followers and a seemingly life-long commitment to tweeting, Shashi Tharoor is ahead of the pack.

He tweets 24/7 about his schedule, worldview and stellar feats. His tweets have triggered controversy in the past, but continue to be in free flow.  A recent tweet chirped:  Quality is like pornography.. U know it when u see it. Subramanian Swamy comes with a swagger and an interesting tagline: I give as good as I get.

His tweets are combative and entertaining. Try this, If I get hold the levers of power, even terrorists will shiver (sic).  Or this, Yes. Modi and I will work together to uproot dowager vishkanya and family. His reach (62,000 followers) is small but growing; the man clearly is a rising star.

Sushma Swaraj lacks Swamy’s or Tharoor’s flair, but is an honest tweeter. She shares documents, photos, links with 2,31,317 followers.  She breaks news and was probably the first person to provide an account of the lunch with Zardaris. Since he was going to Ajmer sharief, he should pray before Khwaja sahib for peace in both our countries, the lady tweeted from the dining hall quoting the PM.

Twitter-savvy politicians use it as a two-way road to converse with followers. Swaraj answered a follower’s query: Had a meeting with Prime Minister to finalise names of Information Commissioners. It is for Government to notify the names.

Here is clearly the easiest way to reach the leader of the opposition. Omar Abdullah, Naveen Jindal, Ajay Maken, Digvijay Singh are among the few politicians using Twitter the way it should be.

Narendra Modi, like the PM, fails the conversation test. His tweets are high-minded monologues in the Swamy Vivekananda’s arise-awake tone. Every third Modi tweet is indeed a quote from the Bengal saint. Otherwise his tweets are just insipid schedule updates. But with 5,50,000 followers he qualifies as a heavy weight.

A few politicians have tried, but dropped out as the medium makes a heavy demand on time. Varun Gandhi tweets were surprisingly sober and witty; pity, they stopped a few months ago, after gaining 88,000 followers.

In sum, there is just a token presence of politicians on Twitter. For the majority, Twitter may sound like a sequel to Vidya Balan’s Dirty Picture.

One daily, two ratings

On the day of release, Houseful 2 started trending on Twitter, thanks to a flurry of tweets that had little to do with the movie. DhanyaRajendran noted that a daily's Bangalore edition had given 4 stars for Houseful 2.

The same paper's Chennai edition had given two-and-a- half. Same reviewer, same paper - two editions, two ratings, she noted. The tweet was picked up, retweeted and commented upon merrily. Apparently the (paper's) film critic saw Housefull 2 twice. Once, when he was sober and paid.

And again when he was drunk and paid. (Eccentricandhow) Others chipped in: So you now officially know how fat the envelope was (SavarSuri). Must've been paid 2 different amounts. (nile080)… 

A host of agencies, including the Supreme Court, would like to see media coming under more pressure to be accountable. But instead of trying to frame any guideline, they only have to keep a watch on how social media will eventually emerge as a super ombudsman and ask media to behave.

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