The office of the Indian prime minister sparked a social media showdown Tuesday after it changed its Twitter handle and effectively barred Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi from reaching its 1.24 million followers. (Via Flickr / World Economic Forum / Norbert Schiller)
Neither Modi nor his party was notified when the PM's generic Twitter handle @PMOIndia was changed to @PMOArchive. The office created a completely new account in its place. Sure, it has the original handle, but on Wednesday it looked pretty bleak and only boasted around 15,000 followers. (Via CNN)
Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted from its official account, "It is ungraceful, unethical and illegal in the way outgoing team in @PMOIndia has handled the transition of this National Digital asset." (Via Twitter / @BJP4India)
Adding to the confusion: This is the first time India has set a precedent for handing over the social media account. Former staff of the outgoing PM, Manmohan Singh, explained they were simply following protocol for archiving Singh's print and digital communication.
Singh's adviser Pankaj Pachauri tweeted an excerpt from India's Right to Information Act, which promises public access to all of Singh's actions in office.
He told the Hindustan Times: "This gives the next administration the flexibility of choosing the same name or start with a new handle. We are being thoughtful."
The Washington Post cites one Indian law expert who disagrees. He says the standard for transitioning online property has already been set. "Similarly all websites, Facebook Ids [sic] and email IDs in official names are properties of the Government of India and has to naturally pass onto the next Government."
And CNET revealed the other option available and possibly overlooked by the prime minister's office. The outlet explained the staff could have preserved Singh's tweets using Twitter's archive HTML export tool. This would allow the tweets to be viewed on a separate public website without sabotaging the online podium for the next in line.
But Modi is no stranger to building an audience on social media. His personal account has 4.2 million followers, and he holds India's record for the most retweeted tweet after winning the election. Modi is set to be sworn in as India's 14th prime minister next Monday.