Of prime tweets, silly fads and 'punny' names

Social media goes to town over Modi's visit to Singapore and less glittering happenings

MODI WAVE

There is no denying Mr Narendra Modi's star power when it comes to social media.

The Prime Minister of India was in town for three days last week, and his tweets were shared the world over. There were some 50,000 posts with the hashtag #ModiInSingapore from Nov 23 to 25, according to Twitter.

Among some of Mr Modi's popular tweets during his short visit was a photo collage of him sharing a simple meal with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Little India.

"Diwali lights & delicious Indian food. Thank you @leehsienloong," read the post which garnered more than 4,100 likes.

His Facebook post on the same outing drew more than 260,000 likes, and prompted a response from Mr Lee.


Among some of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popular tweets during his short visit to Singapore last week was a photo collage of him sharing a simple meal with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Little India. The post garnered more than 4,100 likes. PHOTO: NARENDRA MODI/TWITTER

Mr Modi is considered one of the savviest politicians on social media, which many observers say account for his popularity. With 31 million followers on Facebook and 16.3 million on Twitter, he is second only to US President Barack Obama.

He has also been making it easier for his messages to reach his intended audience.

  • NOTABLE TRENDS

  • #BrusselsLockdown

    Brussels came under lockdown earlier due to police operations. Officials had asked citizens not to share any details of the operations on social media, so people started flooding Twitter with pictures of cats to confuse the terrorists.

  • Uber

    The car-sharing app was in the news for the wrong reasons. A video showing an altercation between an Uber driver and an LTA officer surfaced online, going viral in a matter of hours.

  • #ImThankfulFor

    In the spirit of Thanksgiving, people took to Twitter to express gratitude for everything from food, family to small cows, World Wrestling Entertainment, boyband One Direction and many more.

Earlier this year, Mr Modi launched Twitter Samvad, which is part of the Digital India programme. This allows anyone with a mobile phone, with or without a data plan, to register for a set of his curated tweets - delivered daily.

All users need to do to get this free service is to give an assigned number a missed call.


The latest fad involves filling a condom with water, and dropping it over the head of the person taking the challenge. PHOTO: CONDOMCHALLENGE/TWITTER

Heard of the condom challenge? It's the latest odd fad that is making its rounds on the Internet.

Here's how it works: Fill a condom with water, and drop it over the head of the person taking the challenge.

If all goes well, a bubble should form around the person's face for several seconds before popping.

And that's it.

TRICKY STANCE

Facebook needs to understand that it is utterly impossible to legitimise a place where there will always be pranksters and tricksters.

TIN LE OR THIEN NGUYEN, who tried to show up Facebook's rules

BIT OF A STRETCH

The "official" Twitter page started earlier this month, and has already garnered more than 44,000 followers and sparked dozens of videos.

The profile description asks those performing the prank to "Be Safe!", referring either to safe sex or to taking precautions when pulling a sheet of rubber over your nose and mouth.

The latest trend calls to mind the Ice Bucket Challenge, which was done to raise awareness on Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Except that this "copycat" is sillier, and not for charity.

CALLED TO ACCOUNT

A Vietnamese-Australian man made news last week when his prank to show up Facebook's rules on using real names in profiles took off.

The 23-year-old claimed his name - Phuc Dat Bich - had caused his account to be shut down multiple times due to its similarities to a vulgar phrase. (Incidentally, his name would sound closer to "phoo dat bik".)

"I find it highly irritating that nobody seems to believe me when I say that my full legal name is how you see it. Is it because I'm Asian?" he asked.

To prove his authenticity, he even provided a photo of his passport, which in hindsight had fonts which were slightly suspicious. The story went viral, with many netizens throwing their support behind him.

The story was eventually picked up by the world's media as various news agencies attempted to interview him - unsuccessfully.

Bich, whose real name is either Tin Le or Thien Nguyen depending on which report you believe, eventually revealed that the entire saga was orchestrated.

"Facebook needs to understand that it is utterly impossible to legitimise a place where there will always be pranksters and tricksters," he said.

"What started as a joke between friends, became a prank that made a fool out of the media and brought out the best in the people who reached out to me."

He also urged those who possessed "culturally specific and spectacular" names to ignore those who try to put them down.

"Continue being the best person you can be," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline 'Of prime tweets, silly fads and 'punny' names'. Print Edition | Subscribe