@AsoRock joins abandoned social media pages By Geoff Iyatse

buhariThe media team of President Muhammadu Buhari may have failed to honour its promise to keep Nigerians updated through@AsoRock, a Twitter page it opened on the eve of Buhari’s inauguration.

The account, which was verified by Twitteras soon as it was signed up, has not been updated since May 31, 2015.

@AsoRock was opened on May 28, 2015 with a bio promising to give followers “latest” updates on the administration.

In line with its promise, information on the appointment of the President’s media aides – Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu – was posted on the handle before many news channels learnt about their selection.

The inaugural speech of the President was also uploaded on the page promptly. This was done on May 29, 2015, giving the impression that the administration would, indeed, honour its commitment and upload relevant information on the President’s policies and pronouncements on the platform.

The Twitter page was unveiled with a sensational message on the preparation ahead of Buhari’s administration that was scheduled for the following day. The message – “Tomorrow, Nigerian ushers in an era of change” – recorded overwhelming engagements across different social media platforms.

The handle itself trended for several hours, attracting several thousands of followers to the page in a matter of days.

But the account, which currently has 22, 800 followers, has been left out of Buhari’s communication activities in the past three months.

According to experts, the best way to handle an unwanted social media platform is to take it down. Otherwise, such an account, especially when it belongs to a prominent individual or institution, is prone to hacking.

It was not surprising thus when a Twitter handle of a former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, was taken over by hackers last week. The page was last updated on May 2, 2015, over four months before the attackers – who are posting in Japanese – struck on Saturday.

Ekiti State’s former governor, Kayode Fayemi, also handles his Twitter page in a similar manner. The verified page has been idle since June 19.

Poor social media handling among Nigerian public figures and institutions is growing neck-to-neck with the new technology itself. Instances of abandoned social platforms abound in both political and business communities.

For instance, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s                             @presgoodluck has not been refreshed since May 2, 2011. Even though he is out of government, it has not been rebranded to reflect his new status.

Also going in the direction of dormant social media pages is Jonathan’s famous Facebook. Since he handed over power, the page has been updated only four times, with the last post published on July 5, 2015.

For unverified accounts, the risk of hacking could be minimal. But such poses huge threats to verified institutional accounts such as @AsoRock. A mischievous post by a hacker could come with grievous damage, as the Federal Government could not easily disown the account.

On social media, Buhari’s office is associated with several accounts – three on Twitter, one on Facebook and another on Instagram. All, save the Instgram page, are verified.

Now, it appears the President has spread himself too thin on the new media of communication. Hence, he does not appear efficient in any when compared with his counterparts elsewhere.

Added to @AsoRock, both Facebook and Instagram accounts of Buhari are rarely updated. The President’s media handlers have not visited the Facebook page, which is followed by close to 150,000 users, for a post since June 22. Instagram says the last photograph was posted 12 weeks ago.

Engagement had almost stopped on both @MBuhari and @NGRPresident between June and July. They were only recently reinvigorated with the administration’s 100 days scorecards.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya is a reference point when it comes to Africa’s political engagement through social media. He is known for @UKenyetta Twitter handle and another page on Facebook.

He is not on Instragram – at least, there is no verified account linked to him. And on Facebook and Twitter, there are no duplicated pages of the Kenya President.

On both pages hosted by Kenyatta on Twitter and Facebook, there is rarely a day he does not post information.

PUNCH