HRD Ministry orders linking of social-media handles

The order suggesting the linking of social-media accounts of the students with those of the higher-education institutes as well as the HRD Ministry, has not received a very positive response.

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The Ministry of Human Resource Development has ordered that the Twitter/Facebook/Instagram accounts of all higher-education students should be linked with the accounts of the institutes and the HRD Ministry.

The Ministry’s objective is to allow the publishing of positive stories by the institutions and students —one every week—to share achievements, knowledge and information, and thus, promote learning and motivate each other. To accomplish this task, one employee will be given the designation of ‘social media champion’ (SMC) and assigned the responsibility of opening and operating social-media accounts of the institutions and connecting them to the accounts of the higher-education institutes, HRD Ministry as well as all the students.

However, not everyone thinks this is a good idea.

Most teachers and students are of the opinion that websites are enough to showcase positive work and stories, so the need to get into the social media space does not arise. Many faculty members and students believe that this exercise will only help isolate and probably punish those with strong political views, and may be even restrict freedom of expression. Some students even went to the extent of terming this move ‘moral policing’.

The Ministry maintains that it is up to the students to share their social-media details voluntarily, and that it is not mandatory. According to the Ministry, sharing of Twitter handles does not enable access to the accounts of the students, and therefore, the students need not fear. However, the general response to the initiative has not been very positive.

Cyber law experts feel that connecting of social-media handles will lead to various practical challenges. It may facilitate massive data collection and profiling, and also close monitoring of students and faculty.

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