Facebook and Twitter Forging Deep Ties With Modi Government

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has permitted Twitter unprecedented access to his administration in a drive to put social media at the heart of government, the U.S. Internet company said.

Modi deployed an army of supporters over Twitter and Facebook during his successful election campaign. He has put both the microblogging site and Facebook at the centre of his government's media and research strategies since taking office a month ago and has asked ministers and lawmakers to follow suit.

The 63-year-old's focus on social media presents opportunities for the companies, which see India as one of their top growth markets and are sending senior executives to forge relationships with the government.

With 5 million followers, Modi is the fourth most followed world leader on Twitter. He has 18.8 million Facebook likes.

Twitter has been given direct access to ministers and their staff, advising them on social media usage, as well as organising workshops to train ambassadors and other diplomats, said Raheel Khursheed, head of news, politics and government at Twitter India.

He said the level of interaction between the company and the new government was "unmatched" globally.

On Tuesday, President Pranab Mukherjee debuted on the site after three months of behind-the-scenes negotiations.

Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is currently in India, promoting the potential of Facebook as a tool for small businesses and economic expansion.

Sandberg has requested a meeting with Modi, a source at his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said. She will meet India's minister for information and technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, on Thursday, the source added.


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