Government gets its own social media wing to counter online campaigns

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Government gets its own social media wing to counter online campaigns

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New Delhi:  The government today approved a new social media wing to counter campaigns that have gone viral online, whether on the issue of allegations of corruption and scams, issues regarding women security especially after the Delhi gang-rape or policy paralysis.

"It's not just about offering counter narrative. There are two worlds now - the physical world and the virtual world. The government wants to make its presence larger in the digital world," Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Manish Tewari told NDTV.

The new social media wing will be a part of the I&B Ministry. According to sources, it will collate information from all the different departments of the government and regulate such official content.

Mr Tewari made it clear that the new wing won't monitor or censor social media. "With all due regards, the Internet is the largest space in experiments that's completely ungoverned. But it is also most democratic, so we wanted an institutional response," he said.

The wing is expected to respond to trends and campaign in the new media by countering information, an attempt to lift the government's flagging image ahead of next year's elections amid an upsurge of negative reports and criticism.

Officials say the new department will create content specifically designed for the new media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and increase government presence in these platforms.

Sources said at Thursday's Cabinet meeting, Mr Tewari argued strongly in favour of new media and was supported by Verappa Moily and Praful Patel. However, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma doubted if government officials are equipped to handle such information overflow.

Though some ministries including the Prime Minister's Office are already on Twitter, the media wing will be "dedicated" to collating and integrating all official information under one umbrella.

The creation of this wing, apart from the Press Information Bureau, was earlier criticised as an attempt to rehabilitate more officials and bureaucrats. The minister, though, clarified that it won't involve any additional finances or manpower. "We will select young officers of the Indian Information service who are familiar with technology," Mr Tewari said.



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