Social media hub idea may not take off

The Centre’s controversial proposal to set up a social media communication hub appears to be headed for a quiet burial. Public sector firm Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd., which is supposed to be handling the project, has extended the last date for tenders. This is the fourth time the date has been extended.

The hub proposes to monitor social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even email) handles at the very local level in multiple languages to carry out “sentiment analysis”, track down the influence-making social media users and to categorize the conversations on social media into positive, negative and neutral sections.

It also aimed to track real-time the way social media receives news on government’s schemes and announcements and also political events.

As per the proposal, the project is meant to strengthen the social media division and recruit social media managers to be deployed in 712 districts of the country. Each district will have one social media manager who will be entrusted with the tasks of keeping a close eye on the regional and local media, collecting data of regional media and of local events, providing content for social media and supporting media units at the regional level for social media publicity.

These social media managers will also monitor local editions of newspapers, local cable channels, local audio channels (FM) and key local social media handles for important local developments. They will make a daily analysis report incorporating local sentiments to be sent to region head in the PIB as well as the media hub (command center).

The proposal to set up such a hub had turned controversial, as many called it an indirect measure to “snoop” on and influence voters.

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