Kathmandu: Former President of Nepal, Bidya Devi Bhandari, has courted controversy over her move to convert official Twitter handle into a personal one.
The handle, @PresidentofNP, has been renamed to @BidyaDBhandari. It has more than 25,000 followers. Bhandari’s decision has drawn criticism on social media, with many users arguing that official social media handles should be handed over to the Office of the President.
As the account has been renamed, the blue tick or the verification mark of the account has also disappeared.
The move is seen as a violation of protocol and is being described as a bizarre decision by many.
Bhandari recently completed her term as President and was succeeded by newly elected President, Ram Chandra Paudel. However, instead of handing over the official Twitter handle to Paudel, Bhandari appears to have chosen to keep the handle for herself.
The move has sparked a debate about the ownership of official social media handles and the protocol that should be followed when a new officeholder takes over.
“Respected former President of Nepal, @BidyaDBhandari, I have six times more followers than the official account of the President of Nepal, and I want to donate my account to you. The only condition is that the account you privatized must be handed over to the Office of the President. If you agree, please call or direct message (DM) me,” Ramesh Koirala wrote on Twitter.
Several other social media users have criticized the move.
Procedures for the Use of Social Media by Government Agencies 2018 categorically prohibits personal use of social media accounts operated by the public organizations. Former President’s move violates the government procedure.
Following the public outcry over the misuse of social media handles by the government officials and politicians, the government had introduced the Procedure on Use of Social Networking Sites by Government Agencies in 2018 as a guiding document for government agencies to operate and manage social media accounts. Chapter one of the procedure has provided a guideline about the operation and management of Twitter accounts. The procedure mentions that ‘the official emails should be used for username. For eg for Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers officials, [email protected] or [email protected]’ or [email protected] ).