Politicians get guidelines on Social Media usage

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New Delhi: The Department of Information Technology, which comes under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, has drafted guidelines for government organizations on usage of social media sites.

This comes as a reaction to Shashi Tharoor and Omar Abdullah’s tweets, which have left their personal life and views for the public display.

The guidelines are available on The Department of Information Technology website and are open for public comment before being finalized, which is expected by year’s end.

The guidelines come at a time when an increasing number of departments and government institutions are taking to social media to interact with citizens. They include everything from Delhi Traffic Police to the Ministry of External Affairs.

“The Social Media Framework for the Government of India has been created to enable government agencies to use these platforms more effectively and reach out to their stakeholders and understand their concerns and hear their voices,” it adds. The framework comprises of six elements addressing questions such as why an agency needs to use social media, what platforms can be used for interaction, and how to interact with and sustain a community.

The draft guidelines have taken notice of social media’s potential to upset the traditional dynamics of communications between a government entity and ordinary citizens.

It also adds, “On social media platforms, the perception of official and personal roles and boundaries is often blurred.” Thus the draft has also laid down core values. Officers should clearly identify their official capacity when interacting on such platforms, refrain from commenting on issues out of their official scope, and “be polite, be discrete and be respectful to all.”