by Rob Sears.
In another sign that social media is becoming a major political force, the government of North Korea announced that it had launched a YouTube and a Twitter account. Technically, the accounts were created by North Korean media outlet Uriminzokkiri, but it is believed that they are instead directly run by the North Korean government. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley remarked: "The Hermit Kingdom will not change overnight, but technology once introduced can't be shut down. Just ask Iran" (referring to Iran's attempt to stop online criticism of last summer's disputed election).
On the heels of this announcement, the Delhi Traffic Police (DTP) announced that they would be leveraging social media during the upcoming Commonwealth Games (sort of like the Indian Olympics). So much traffic is anticipated that the DTP have started using Facebook to collect information about traffic violations. Granted, some people are questioning the legality of the initiative due to privacy concerns, but overall the buzz has been fairly positive.
It's interesting to see how foreign governments are starting to use and respond to social media. To Crowley's point, social media is a powerful entity - for better or worse. Barack Obama leveraged social media to break fundraising records and popularize his candidacy, but Iran exacerbated its problems by trying to cut off access to social networks and stifle criticism.
As the medium evolves and gains greater penetration worldwide, it is refreshing to see more administrations utilizing social media to bring greater transparency to governments, and looking for ways that social media can help them serve the people more efficiently.