As the world celebrates Social Media Day on Saturday, 30 June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to comment on the tremendous change social media has brought about in the world.

“Greetings on #SocialMediaDay! The world of social media has played a key role in democratising our discourse and giving a platform to millions of people around the world to express their views and showcase their creativity,” said the PM.

Modi came to power at the Centre with a massive mandate in 2014. The success of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in that year’s Lok Sabha elections has been attributed to an effective use of social media besides other traditional strategies.

“I would particularly like to congratulate my young friends for their innovative usage of social media. Their frank method of conveying opinions is extremely endearing. I urge youngsters to continue expressing and discussing freely. #SocialMediaDay,” tweeted the PM.

 

The PM has always been a vocal supporter of social media and its widespread use. He had in April 2014, before coming to power, said that social media should not be restricted to a political sphere but as a source of information which could connect billions of people with each other.

“Everyone should learn from social media. I adopted social media as a source of information, as a highway that helps me connect with the masses,” Modi had said.

Crediting the knowledge and the connectivity gained from social media for increasing his political strength, Modi said, “I do not use social media to disseminate my thoughts but to understand the thoughts of the people.”

With 43.2 million followers on Twitter, Prime Minister Modi is the third most followed political personality in the world after former US President Barack Obama and current US President Donald Trump.

But a report released by Twitter Audit in February 2018 revealed that he was also among the world leaders with a very high number of fake followers. Data revealed that 60 per cent of all his followers were fake. While Trump had 39 per cent fake followers, Pope Francis had 59 per cent and Mexican President Pena Nieto had 47 per cent fake followers. By comparison Obama had only 13 per cent fake followers.

 

The same data also revealed that Congress president Rahul Gandhi had 69 per cent fake followers – 9 per cent more than the PM. Gandhi’s score on the audit was 31 per cent with 3.7 million fake followers out of a total 6 million. At the time, Gandhi tweeted from the handle @OfficeOfRG. In March 2018 he changed it to @RahulGandhi.