Introducing PoliTech: a new fortnightly column by Vijay Mukhi

10 Jul,2013


There is much excitement about the exchanges by politicians on Twitter and Facebook. But will these have any impact on the forthcoming general elections? Internet Guru, infotech evangelist, data security specialist, trainer, author and former columnist Vijay Mukhi will answer this question and track trends in a new fortnightly column for MxMIndia


By Vijay Mukhi


Our politicians don’t understand social media. They need to take lessons from the likes of an Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan or even the Dalai Lama. Their tweets don’t get retweeted, and the ones that do like those of Milind Deora or Ajay Maken or Omar Abdullah aren’t political in nature.


For instance, Ajay Maken’s tweet was as follows: RT @BlackBerry: BIG NEWS: BBM slated to be available on iOS and Android as free download this summer. MORE: . Note it didn’t concern anything remotely concerned with politics. And Omar? Here’s his tweet that got retweeted 43,332 times at the time of writing: RT @WarrenBuffett: Warren is in the house.


The US internet population is around 170-180 million and that in India is 120-130 million.  There may not be too much of a gap here, but the problem is that in the US of A, 70-80% of the population is internet-enabled whereas in India it’s only 10-20%.


Also, of the 15% of population that’s internet-enabled, at least 5% will be kids who don’t vote and another 5% from the affluent who have never voted, and possibly never will.


What we have in balance is a 5% of the internet-enabled janata and I don’t think a swing here or there really matters. Bottomline: Mr Modi and his team may embrace Twitter and Facebook, write blogs, go to YouTube, but all of this will not help him win the 2014 general elections.


But in 2019, we should have four to five hundred million people on the internet, and only then we could say there will be action on the social media front. Elections 2014 will be the semi-final and it’s important to get our act together for 2019.


I have been a fair number of videos of the US elections over YouTube. One of them had a mindboggling 43 million views. With that kind of a number, the videos in question can impact a result, and create a stir with the masses. That’s why elections in the US can be fought over Facebook and Twitter.


There are many issues that the new social order raises and which must be debated. The Election Commission sends people with video cameras to monitor the speeches at political rallies. How are they planning to monitor Facebook and Twitter? If I stand for elections from the Mumbai South constituency, and if you are in the US and you pay Facebook a million dollars for my promotion, how’s the EC  going to monitor that spending?


Also, a contestant is not allowed to campaign within 48 hours before polling. So can Narendra Modi send a tweet out in that time period? And what if a well-wisher from England sends a hundred thousand tweets hours before voting?


While one can’t be critical or character-assassinate an opponent, what’s stopping an unnamed supporter from doing that on Twitter, create blogs and go berserk? Suppose I create a million fake BJP Twitter followers and if they start retweeting nasty things about the Congress, wouldn’t it amount to be an election malpractice.


It’s issues like these that we must discuss, debate and ponder over. The Election Commission must seize itself of these issues and figure what it should do. And if that doesn’t happen, expect mayhem in 2019.


Battlewatch: BJP wins Facebook, Congress up on Twitter

If the general elections were to be held today and the voting population comprised Facebook and Twitter users, the BJP would win the elections.


What works on Twitter however does not necessarily work with Facebook and vice versa. Facebook is more BJP whereas Twitter is leans slightly towards the Congress.


The million dollar question that no one has been able to answer is how do you rank politicians on Twitter or Facebook in terms of influence which then reflect in how people actually vote. Because there can never be just one answer, we look at how we can slice and dice the data to answer our conclusions.


In our view the most important parameter on Twitter is not the number of followers you have but the number of Retweets. This is because you can follow someone only once but you can Retweet tweets multiple times. Retweeting is an ongoing process. When you Retweet, you are generally in agreement with that tweet and it is the only way of giving a thumbs up for that Tweet on Twitter. Please visit and see politicians fare on ReTweets. We update our data at least once a day and everything is interactive (


Next fortnight: How many of Narendra Modi’s followers are real? And those of Shashi Tharoor?


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