The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has directed all higher educational institutes (HEIs) to link the social media accounts of students with the institute and the HRD ministry, inviting displeasure owing to privacy concerns.
MHRD, in its move to “connect the students”, has issued a notification to all HEIs to link the students’ Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts with those of the institute and of the Ministry.
In addition to this, the HEIs have been directed to appoint a “Social Media Champion” (SMC) from their institute who will have access to the institute’s social media profiles and act as a medium of communication between the HRD Ministry and other institutions.
These SMCs will be further responsible to “publicize at least one positive story/event by their institution every week and retweet the positive stories by other HEIs so that their students and stakeholders can learn from the success stories of other institutions”, according to the official release by MHRD.
The deadline to submit the details of the SMC candidate is 31 July, as stated by R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary of the Department of Higher Education, in the letter addressed to the heads of HEIs.
This move to track the social media handles has sparked debates among the students and the institutions and has invited displeasure due to privacy concerns.
Ayesha Kidwai, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, condemning the move said, “This is ridiculous, and it is a clear attempt by the Government at implementing surveillance on even the personal spaces of students.”
“If your intention is to facilitate communication, all stakeholders of institutions should have been made a part of it. Why should only students’ accounts be linked?” questioned N. Raghuram, faculty member at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.
Responding to the criticism and outrage coming out from various institutions and students, the HRD Ministry has clarified that the move is not mandatory and students needn’t share their account handles if they don’t want to.
Dismissing claims of privacy breach, the Ministry said, “Anyone who understands how social media works would know that sharing of Twitter handles would not enable accessing the accounts. This is elementary knowledge. It is to share good practices and motivate each other by best performances.”
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