The former Government of Punjab, established under the rule of Pakistan Muslim League – N (PML-N) has refused to hand over the verified Twitter credentials to the newly elected PTI government, reports Daily Pakistan.

Currently, the Twitter presence of Government of Punjab is associated with three official accounts.

@GovtofPunjab
This is a verified account with over 226K Twitter followers. It says that it is the data archive for Punjab Government from 2013 to 2018 and gives a redirect link to the interim government account in its bio.

@PunjabGovtpk
This account was established by the interim government for a little over a one-month period from June 1st to August 19th. Currently serving as an archive as well, this government account has only 1252 followers. The last tweet indicates the appointment of the new Chief Minister of Punjab.

@PunjabGovt_
The newly elected PTI government has set up the third official account of the Punjab Government. The account is being run by Digital Media Wing of Director General Public Relations of the Information & Culture Department. This account currently boasts 2370 followers.

Similar in their handle names with identical display photographs, these official accounts are creating a lot of confusion for users who are not aware of the difference amongst the three.

How other governments transfer social media accounts?

When a new government is elected in the US, all social media and web content data is transferred to the National Archives and Data Administration (NARA). When Donald Trump became the new President-elect, the Obama administration published a list of digital assets that will remain with the White House. These assets included social media accounts of the White House, President, Vice President, First Lady, Cabinet, Press Secretary and a few others.

The social media accounts included Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Medium, Flickr, and YouTube. Upon transferring to the new government, the username and number of followers were retained, however, all the posts from the previous government were removed and archived to new accounts for President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden. The new accounts also transferred the number of original followers and are supervised by NARA. A list was also published for all the archived handles used in the Obama administration.

The purpose of transferring the same accounts to the newly elected government is to preserve and pass on the digital legacy to future governments so they can continue to utilize and further develop the digital channels to stay connected with the citizens.

How to resolve the discrepancy?

Since three Twitter accounts have already been created for the Government of Punjab, it is recommended that the old accounts be archived with a different handle. For instance, @GovtofPunjab can be renamed @GoP18 and the interim handle can be renamed to @GoPinterim. The account for the new government should have the first original handle and followers be migrated to this account.

Just like any other government asset, the maintenance of archives by a political party is unethical. Instead, the online progress should be archived officially by relevant government department such as public relations. The newly elected government holds the right to utilize the same social media accounts to optimize their digital connectivity with the citizens and serve them.

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