Hasan al Lawati on why Twitter has taken over traditional media.
Only when a government minister responds to a tweet from a member of the public do you realise the boundless power of Oman’s favourite media, Twitter.
Nowadays, Shura members, private sector CEOs and even some ministers make official announcements on Twitter before sending any press releases to traditional media.
Recently, the Ministry of Tourism responded – in less than 24 hours – to a series of suggestions and concerns tweeted by an Omani citizen.
Mwasalat, a fresh example of a government body using Twitter to break news, shared on its timeline the latest statistics about its fares and timetables; hours before any newspaper carried the story.
Last month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs used its Twitter account to debunk two social media-based rumours while Muscat Municipality continues to react to almost every picture-proofed complaint.
And with more influential officials taking to Twitter to share their ideas, the blue bird keeps giving more blows (or pecks) to the mainstream channels, with wide-ranging implications.
While many might argue that government bodies are bureaucratic and motionless when it comes to people’s complaints, their Twitter handles prove otherwise.
But why is this the case? I think that when a complaint is publicly visible, it puts way more pressure on the receiving end to respond before a single tweet snowballs into a groundswell of criticism, especially if it came from a popular figure.
It is healthy for both parties, I believe. It helps building bridges between the public sector and the people it serves. This might be the first sign of banishing the “closed-door system” in Oman.