A day after the spat between the BJP and former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s media adviser Pankaj Pachauri over the latter’s move to archive @PMOIndia Twitter handle, the new ruling party said it will get the problem “fixed”.
“They have not followed the best practice. They have gone ahead with the unethical practice of renaming the account, which has now gone dead and lost its followers,” said Arvind Gupta, convener of BJP’s information technology cell. He said they would now have to start from scratch once Narendra Modi takes over. “But we are not going to do that. We will get it fixed,” he said, without elaborating how they planned to take over control.
Going with its stated policy, Twitter refused to “comment on individual accounts.” However, it is reliably learnt that the social media platform has secured the account and will hand it over to the new dispensation. It is normal practice for Twitter to facilitate smooth transfer of institutional accounts when there is a change in the management. Both Twitter and Facebook, reset pages in case verified owners stake claim.
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It is, however, interesting that the managers of @PMOIndia chose to remove all the tweets so far, especially since it is possible to download and save tweets and retweets in a searcheable archive format. This feature was introduced in late 2012. Pachauri said the tweets were removed for archival purposes as required under RTI Act.
After @PMOIndia was renamed as @PMOIndiaArchive, the original handle became a dead page and lost its verified status as well as half a million odd followers. However, the @PMO handle can get the followers back if the archive handle is renamed as @PMOIndia. Incidentally, the dead @PMOIndia account already has over 1,50,000 followers.
While there is no doubt that the entire handover could have been handled better, we can also attribute the confusion to the fact that “this is the first time such a handover is taking place”.