Recently, the US embassy in Islamabad retweeted a tweet of Pakistani politician Ahsan Iqbal who shared news about the US elections along with his sarcastic remarks. The tweet went viral and qualified to be controversial because of its very nature of political opinion. The embassy officially apologised through its Twitter account for what was done through unauthorised access.
The fresh saga of the tweet is yet another episode of the controversy that reminds us of the strength and weaknesses of social media.
Twitter is one of the active social media platforms w that not only connects a person to millions of his or her followers but helps a person send across the message within few seconds to a huge population aka netizens.
A politician could communicate to an audience through Twitter, which is larger than the supporters available in public meetings and conventions. The followers are not passive as if supporters in a public meeting or convention but they are highly empowered to show their reaction to the message of the followed persons that could be their political leaders or opponents.
In today’s world, Twitter is a crucial and effective tool for marketing, communication, and influencing; even faster, persuasive, and more widespread than print and broadcast media. Politicians, social workers, celebrities, and corporations use the platforms to communicate with their fans and followers. Twitter is like a communication highway that needs no border and no boundary. It makes a person’s presence global, which is why its users use multiple languages to enhance their influence to a wide audience.
Tweets are considered the statement of politicians and celebrities which are also made headlines or seen flashing in news reports by mainstream channels. However, they do frequently make mistakes and land themselves in hot water, leaving no option but presenting an apology or explanation of what they said earlier.
The moment you tweet a statement, it becomes the property of the netizens, who react to your message within the next few seconds.
A majority of politicians pen down their thoughts and messages by their own but corporations and institutions hire people to use this digital media. In most cases, these individuals are responsible for the controversy. Most of the time tweets draw criticism from netizens usually based on statements of a political nature.
For every potential tweet to be controversial, there is a divided audience. One supports, one opposes and the rest is judgmental.
The ugliest thing on Twitter is that you can’t edit your tweet once you generate it. You can delete it outright but can’t save your skin either because a tweet spreads more swiftly than wildfire through retweets and mentions. The only embarrassing option left is to present an apology or explanation in a simple or diplomatic tone.
In the case of an individual, it is much easier to make an apology for a tweet against the sentiments of the masses, on the contrary, if the mistake is done through the account of an organisation, the impact of a controversial tweet does not fade away merely from an explanation and apology but it maintains concerns and doubts to some extent like in the case of the recent Twitter’s saga.
Organisations in Pakistan should depute responsible and highly trained professionals as the gatekeepers of the digital highways of communication. Sometimes, a negligible mistake puts the reputation and credibility of the institutions at stake. It is simply because every word counts and every thought communicates on Twitter.