Saturday, June 15, 2024

Twitter- The New East India Company

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It is no secret now that Twitter is trying to interfere in the politics of different countries and trying to attempt a soft regime change by working against the parties which are ‘Kafir’ to the ideology of Twitter. If data is the new gold, Twitter has emerged as the new East India Company rightly pointed out by many academicians in the recent past.

The rise in the internet availability of the country has been a major reason for the rise of these Social Media platforms. India has seen a boom of internet users after the advent of Jio in the telecom sector. In 2013, the internet base of India was around 238 million which reached 560 million in 2020. Currently, India is the second-largest internet user in the world, coming second only after China. This internet boom is expected to reach more users as different statistics point out that India might have around 1 billion active users in 2024.

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According to Ravi Shankar Prasad, India has around 530 million Whatsapp users, 480 million Youtube users, and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have 41 crores (410 million), 21 crores (210 million), and 1.75 crores (17.5 million) users in the country respectively. With such a great database, comes great power. In the recent past, we have seen the whims of these social media companies which have used their platform to promote a certain agenda and cancel everyone who speaks against that.

Twitter, which has the least number of users in India is however the most talked about platform in the town as it caters to the elite of India. Twitter has openly shown its bias in the past 1 year. From suspending Donald Trump’s account to Kangana Ranaut’s account, Twitter has subtly hinted that if you need to stay in this space you have to sign the ‘Subsidiary Alliance’. The Subsidiary Alliance was practiced on a large scale while expanding the footprints of East India companies in the Indian subcontinent. The alliance simply meant that all the powers of the king need to be surrendered, the King needs to pledge his alliance to the crown, and the king cannot contact any foreign personnel or wage a war against anyone without the permission of the company. The same pattern is followed by
the new age East India Company- Twitter.

People can use these platforms only as long as the company thinks it is appropriate to do so. You cannot counter any ideology which is contradictory to the views of twitter, if you do, your account will be suspended or worse, banned.

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Among several other things that Twitter is doing, the most striking thing is, it has started adding the tag of ‘Manipulated Media’ on several users who seem to hold a certain ideology. When the alleged Congress Toolkit was exposed, several BJP leaders tweeted about it condemning the incident. However, Twitter added a tag of ‘manipulated media’ on most of these tweets without actually doing forensic research on whether the toolkit was fake or real. The second interesting aspect of it is, Twitter has been portraying itself as an intermediary for the people to express their opinions. If Twitter is adding tags like these and suspending accounts that may not agree with its ideology, then Twitter is exercising editorial control over the platform and hence should be held responsible if any tweets incite violence and promote anarchy in the country. It cannot just act as an intermediary when it wants and exercise control on the content of the platform. If it wants to exercise control, then it should also be held responsible for inciting the Delhi riots and also the Republic day violence. Twitter should understand that it cannot just have the cake and eat it too.

The recent press release by the Ministry of Electronics and IT has been a very positive step by the govt that demonstrated Twitter its actual position. The letter clearly states that – Twitter should stop beating around the bush and implement the policy formulated by the Government. It is just a social media platform and has no locus in dictating what the policy of the country should be. The Government has stood against this new age neo-colonist company with the might of the state. It has displayed that the state is supreme and such companies cannot be entertained if they do not follow the law of the land. The government should however understand that this is just the beginning. Twitter is checking the waters before it starts doing funny things around 2024 to try a regime change with the force of its platform. This is not a one-day battle, it is a long protracted war. The Modi government still has 3 years to show Twitter that it is just a company, if it tries to act smart, the state won’t feel the need to think twice before scrapping it from the country. Tik Tok was a popular platform in India until last year, but after the dispute with China, it got banned. Twitter should understand that the life and politics of India would go on with or without the existence of Twitter. We are a country that believes in the Madhyam Marg. We do not want to give freedom like America where a corporate becomes more powerful than the state, neither do we want an Authoritarian regime like China where no one dares to speak against the state. However, Twitter should not be in a utopia that India won’t take any extreme steps like China or Russia, because if push comes to shove, we will shove.

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