The row between the Indian government and the social media platform Twitter is getting fiercer by the day.
The seriousness and the persistent cornering of Twitter are evident as on Thursday, the Union Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad issued a warning to the social media platforms (Surely Twitter in focus here) yet again, albeit this time in the parliament against the spreading of fake news.
The escalating confrontation between the Modi led administration and Twitter is citing free speech on the platform. The government had ordered Twitter to delete almost 1200 accounts, which included the accounts of several journalists, activists, and politicians.
However, the demand on the part of the government seems rather farfetched and not in the spirit of democracy at all. The fundamental right of any citizen of this country is to be able to speak without fear.
As far as journalism goes, again, the fundamental right and the most critical and essential element of journalism is to be able to bring forth information and events that perhaps might not come to light if they were solely under the governments prerogative, remember the days of news telecasts via Door Darshan. We have come a long way from those days, and thankfully so.
What is the Indian Government’s perspective & why is it being so “sensitive”?
The issue between twitter and the Indian government has heated and deteriorated in the context of the ongoing farmers’ protest, which largely propelled people from all walks of life to support or oppose the farmers’ protest.
This led to some tweets being posted on the social media channel, which has obviously not gone down well with the Indian government.
The Center made it clear that it was in no mood to entertain such “inflammatory content,” especially those with the hashtag of farmer’s genocide, and ordered Twitter to block such accounts as mandated by the government.
It ordered Twitter to take these accounts down; the govt also conveyed to Twitter’s officials that the manner in which it allowed fake, unverified, and automated bot accounts to use its platform has raised a concern within the government that Twitters’ commitment to transparency and healthy conversation on its platform, may be flawed.
Twitter meanwhile has demonstrated a little strength as it stood against the ongoing fight with the government and argued that it has complied with the government’s demand and has suspended more than 500 accounts but that it is against the deletion of 1200 accounts, arguing that the request to block the accounts of journalists, activist and politicians was not consistent with the Indian Law.
However, as per the latest reports, it seems like Twitter has in fact bowed down and accepted the demands of the Indian government.
The government’s demands may incur a thought in one’s mind, how free are we to express our opinion?
Can we and are we allowed to raise our voices or express our dissatisfaction or noncompliance with all and any of the policies that this government might bring forth?
What will happen if we perhaps choose to disagree with the present government on some issue? Will we be thrown in jail or possibly have some sort of legal action taken against us if we go down this road of critiquing the current government on any issue?
The worst of all – are we becoming like China? Where all information and news is solely under the control of the Chinese authorities. What is happening in and to our country?
Indian Government goes “Koo,” an example of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” Abhiyan?
While the war of words between the two battling sides gets heated by the day, it is a local language based microblogging platform that has been laughing all the way.
Koo would have perhaps never thought of the free publicity and the marketing it has got without spending a single penny, at that, the way it has because of this ongoing battle of wits.
The platform saw a massive rush and gained much in credentials as some of the top ministers and government officials, and departments migrated and logged on to the platform.
In the last 48 hours, Koo has seen over 1 lakh downloads and has now expanded its user base from, hold your breath, 30 lakh to over 3 million.
The exponential rise in its users and the “stamp of approval” it has received from the Indian government has propelled it to directly “challenge” Twitter, as it raises its head to become the homegrown “Atmanirbhar Bharat” answer to the “International & Foreign” Twitter.
If this is the trend that we are to see in the coming years, the foreign companies operating in India and those who may be looking to invest in the country would be “studying” these developments with a lot of “unease.”
Is this a sign that the foreign companies are perhaps not going to find a welcome and a favorable environment for them to invest and do business in India, going by the current trend and the wave of nationalism that is currently flowing through the corridors of this country.
This thought process is worth pondering on, are we as a country so sensitive and insecure or perhaps so confident that we are ready to operate and exist as and in “isolation” from the rest of the world.
Does it remind any one of the 80’s decade, where Bajaj and Ambassador were the only options? And the news was filtered through many government channels and was dished out to the Indian public only after much “censorship.”
Are we honestly looking at a comeback of such days, in today’s ultra-tech world, a world that is changing every second, and we are, wait, what – going backwards?
The Indian government, in its latest attempt to bog down Twitter, has openly threatened the Twitter Officials with arrest. That shows the power and the extent to which the Indian government can go – if you perhaps find yourself on the other side.
While it is understandable that every country, including India, should and would put its interest first, that is not the issue here but to blanket ban and to order with “dire consequences” if not abided by, is perhaps also an indication that we might be in the process of arriving at a time – where our very freedom is questionable.
The fact that this ban is sought not for outsiders of the country but for people who are and belong to this country, many are leaders from the opposition parties, journalists who may have made haste in reporting, and activists – whose job itself is to well – protest; is this right and valid?
The United States issues a statement.
After the day the Indian government threatened the Twitter officials with arrests if they do not comply with the government’s demands, the United States has on Wednesday issued a statement that it is committed to backing democratic values across the world.
This is an indication and a very strong one at that; this entire escapade between the Indian government and Twitter has not found much grounding and support from the United States.
There is an example here of two very recent events in the United States that had led to much unrest and mass protests in the U.S. – Black lives matter and the storming of the Capitol Building.
The U.S. administration in both these events – did not ask Twitter or any social media platform to delete or block accounts of any individuals, journalists, political members, or even activists on account of these unrests.
Twitter had as a self-action and not at the behest of any U.S. political party, person or otherwise, done so.
The comparison is plain to see here, meanwhile, according to the latest reports this time the Indian government may well have won this round but perhaps, Twitter has opened itself to the probability of bowing down in the future too.
Whose loss and whose gain, think wisely!