Social Media and the Political Right in India: An analysis of Narendra Modi's Tweeting
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has over 8.2 million followers on Twitter and over 25 million “likes” on Facebook, making him among the most followed politicians on social media. With a mix of ‘feel good’ messages, shout-outs to other celebrities, well-timed ritualized responses, as well as a careful strategy of ‘followbacks’ for a small selection of his most active followers, Modi has been able to grow his following dramatically since 2013. Twitter helps Modi circumvent the mainstream media and directly reach a significant constituency of listeners. At the same time, social media is also central to his broader campaign of public image shaping as a technology-savvy leader who represents pan-Indian aspirations of modernity, away from Modi’s own past image in the popular media as a central political figure in some of the worst communal riots in India.
Joyojeet Pal (MIMS ’04) is an assistant professor in the School of Information, University of Michigan. His research is on technology and development in the Global South. His recent work has focused on the use accessible technology by people with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries, and on the role of social media in political brand building in India.