External Affairs Ministry createsTwitter account

Last Updated 10 July 2010, 09:24 IST

In probably the first effort by a government ministry to harness the new age internet tools, the Twitter account was created Thursday, which initially had only two posts. But through word of mouth, it got scores of followers.

A Facebook account is also being planned as is the launch of a new web portal by the public diplomacy division of the external affairs ministry, an official told IANS.
However, officials were not keen to publicise the effort, and termed it still a "work in progress".

They said the new web portal would be "interactive" through the links to social networking sites, but refused to give further details.

The ministry's publicity division had so far been involved in organizing seminars on aspects of foreign policy in different parts of the city, with a view to take the foreign policy-making process closer to the people.

Former minister of state Shashi Tharoor was an enthusiastic user of the tool, often using it for talking about foreign policy issues related to less glamorous aspects, like a visit to African nations.

But certain tweets of Tharoor generated controversy.While several Indian government departments and ministries have had comprehensive websites, they have been all wary of using social networking tools. There is one notable exception - Delhi Traffic Police's Facebook and Twitter accounts. It was launched two month ago and has become a runaway success.

The use of Facebook and Twitter for public diplomacy is not a new phenomenon, especially with the US and Britain even having created a code on the usage of this tool.
It has also become the subject of academic treatises and discourses on what has been termed  "public diplomacy 2.0".

In the US, not just institutions, even ambassadors and diplomats are on Twitter. Recently, there was a brouhaha over certain chirpy tweets sent by State Department officials while on an official trip to Syria.

Similarly, in other Western countries, both Facebook and Twitter have been used extensively in public diplomacy efforts, networking multiple platforms like YouTube for videos and Flickr for photographs, besides the two ubiquitous sites.

(Published 10 July 2010, 07:54 IST)

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