JEDDAH — More government officials are joining Twitter realizing its potential to interact with people.
Although public figures have been subjects of accounts impersonation, Twitter allows its users who fall under certain criteria to have verified accounts. Fake accounts of government officials grabbed people’s attention, giving them hope that their complaints and concerns would finally get the ears of those in power.
Recently, the Ministry of Labor issued a statement on its website denying that Adel Fakieh, Minister of Labor, of having an account on Twitter after one surfaced in his name. The ministry’s spokesman said the only official social media page the minister has is on Facebook.
Back in January, the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques’ Affairs denied the Grand Mosque’s imam and preacher Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais having accounts on Twitter or any other social networking site.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has launched its verified Twitter account aiming to protect consumers from commercial fraud and to tweet useful information for the public.
Despite the culture of revealing the names of people and institutions guilty of offenses being non-existent in the Kingdom, the ministry’s Twitter account “defamed” two supermarkets in Riyadh. Al-Tamimi was named with a photo attached for promoting milk cartons that passed their sell-by date. The Euromarche was found promoting a drink at SR2.95 while charging customers more at the cash counter. Eventually, the shopping center was forced to charge the discounted price.
According to a media report, the ministry is sued for defaming the supermarkets in a public platform. However, Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Minister of Commerce and Industry, re-tweeted the two supermarkets’ names, making him a subject of admiration. An Arabic hashtag has been created in support of the minister, where people are applauding the ministry’s new approach to ensure consumer protection and preventing commercial fraud.
Saleh Al-Khalil, undersecretary at the ministry, has confirmed that the minister’s Twitter account is genuine. He also explained the procedure followed by the ministry in defaming offending traders through Twitter.