KATHMANDU, Dec 31: It all began with a social media campaign. There had been requests to vote Pushpa Basnet´s for "CNN Hero 2012". The efforts of social campaigners materialized after Basnet was declared CNN Hero of 2012, the second Nepali to accomplish the feat after Anuradha Koirala, chairman of Maiti Nepal.
It was again the social media that broke the news. As the CNN declared its new hero, the news spread like wildfire through the social media much before news portals got any clue. “
"This is what we call a social media power," Ujjwal Acharya (@UjjwalAcharya), a social media expert, says.
PHOTO: GOOGLE IMAGES
Increase in users
Social media has become a phenomenon. It is rare for a person aged 15-25 to not have a twitter or a facebook account, Acharya says. Facebook and Twitter have become the rage with the young generation, while other social media tools are not that popular among Nepali youths.
Noted cartoonist Rajesh KC (@Phalano) believes that social media this year opened a platform for discussions ranging from political to petty social issue. "With the numbers of likes and comments I receive in my facebook and twitter accounts, I can say the masses can be reached through social media in a short span of time," KC say“, "And, the users are increasing," referring to his cartoon character Phalano page, which has crossed 8000 likes (facebook) and more than 2800 followers (twitter).
Anil Ghimire aka Aakar Anil says the number of social media users have skyrocketed this year with availability of social media-friendly smartphone. "Facebook and twitter have become a favorite among Nepali users, followed by Instagram, a photo sharing site," Ghimire says. "Political and social issues are favorite topics in the social media," Ghimire (@aakarpost) said whose tweets has crossed 57,000, most probably the largest number among the users based in Nepal.
Social media also saw joint efforts for social causes. iBlood campaign in facebook and twitter helps find the person with a matching blood group. Also, a group Tweet For Cause (@tfcNepal) active in twitter "aims to bring smiles in people´s faces" by contributing textbooks, clothes, among others, to the needy.
"Even a simple outing is being organized through the social media. Those interested can participate or make free contributions," Acharya says.
NASA admits photo error
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) posted a photo taken from space of a peak identifying it as the Mt. Everest. The picture was shared on twitter, published by US-based magazine The Atlantic, and posted on astronomy website Space.com. However, a group of Nepali twitter users voiced their suspicion.
Noted journalist and editor of Nepali Times weekly Kunda Dixit (@kundadixit)tweeted, "Sorry guys, but the tall peak with the shadow in the middle is not Mt Everest." It was @phalano who confirmed it was not the Everest. "OMG! Alien´s #hubble has gone something wrong. It´s Sasan Kangari, guys," @phalano tweeted.
NASA later confirmed that it had made a mistake and removed the picture from its website. "It is not Everest. It is Saser Muztagh in the Karakoram Range of the Kashmir region of India," AFP reported referring to an email it received from NASA spokesperson.
"How interesting is that? Nepali twitter users´ combined effort proves NASA´s haste identification of Mt #Everest wrong!" @UjjwalAcharya who actively participated and monitored the whole incident tweeted.
No social media for Nepali politicians, actors
It has become customary among the politicians and Hollywood and Bollywood actors to use social media tools. However, social media tools are not popular among Nepali politicians and actors. Only a few youth leaders are active facebook users. Ghimire believes that they fear being soft targets. However, there are multiple fake accounts for actors.
The other side
As the number of users faking as celebrities has been growing, the police have every possible effort to nab the offenders. A separate cyber cell in the police department looks after the cases related to cyber crimes.
"An actress, some three months ago, filed a complaint claiming that someone had posted her fake nude picture," said Spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Range, Hanumandhoka DSP Dhiraj Pratap Shah. The Nepal Police requests Facebook headquarters in California to trace the internet protocol (IP) location of the offender. "While some requests are acted upon others have to wait for a court verdict," Shah said.
The offenders are punished under cyber law which slaps a fine of up to Rs 100,000 and five years jail term or both.