As billionaire Elon Musk completed the takeover of Twitter, Twitterati in India on Friday seemed divided with those against content moderation welcoming the development and others weary of the future of the social media platform that has had run-ins with the government in the country.
With the social media giant undergoing a major shake-up, it would be interesting to see how its future pans out in India where it has been marred by several controversies, including briefly blocking the access of then Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in 2021 among other political leaders.
While Twitter said the action was taken as the account did not conform with its policies, those impacted had slammed the decision as an “arbitrary and gross violation of IT rules”.
Musk completed the USD 44 billion takeover of Twitter and reportedly fired the social media company’s four top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal and legal executive Vijaya Gadde.
“The bird is freed,” Musk, 51, tweeted after closing the deal.
Reacting to the development, filmmaker Ashoke Pandit tweeted,”while wickets are falling in Twitter after Elon Musk takes over Urban Naxals in India must be worried.”
Vijaya Gadde who was very friendly to the Urban Naxals in India is finally fired from Twitter.
Look at her, posing for “Smash Brahminical Patriarchy” with Barkha Dutt in Twitter HQ.
This is another wicket gone after clicking a pic with Barkha who never lets you down . pic.twitter.com/f20N1CxHgt
— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) October 28, 2022
Another filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri posted a picture on Twitter of Gadde with some people, including Twitter’s ex-CEO Jack Dorsey holding a placard “smash brahminical patriarchy”.
“They wanted to smash Brahminical Patriarchy but got smashed themselves. An example of Brahminical Justice. Thanks, Elon Musk,” he added.
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) October 28, 2022
Shefali Vaidya, who describes herself as a social media influencer, reacted to the development of Musk firing the top executives of Twitter, saying, “Excellent! I was shadow banned and my follower count dropped steadily from the day I welcomed Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.” “Hopefully, now Twitter India, Twitter Support will actually make it an unbiased platform!” she said.
Musk’s claim of allowing free speech on the platform has enthused many, particularly those who were banned by Twitter for violation of rules.
Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut, who was banned from Twitter last year for violating its rules on hateful conduct and abusive behaviour, took to Instagram on Friday to hail the news of Musk’s takeover.
Many others sounded a note of caution over the development.
Sanjay Jha, former Congress leader and author, said Musk firing the top Twitter team immediately after acquiring it upends basic leadership principles.
“This man is like Donald Trump on a lower dose of steroids,” Mr Jha said.
Elon Musk firing top Twitter team immediately on acquiring it upends basic leadership principles. This man is like Donald Trump on a lower dose of steroids.
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) October 28, 2022
Swati Chaturvedi, a columnist and journalist, reacted to the development saying,”belt up folks, this is going to be a crazy ride.” Musk has also flagged the imminent danger that social media will splinter into far right-wing and far left-wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide society.
K T Lakshmi Kanthan, the head of Tamil Nadu Congress’ social media department said,”there are many right-wing supporters in Twitter India and letting fake handles to do their hate propaganda which spreads venom in the society. Elon Musk should look into this, if he really cares for the freedom of the bird.”
According to a New York Times report, the Twitter executives who were fired include Agrawal, Gadde, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal and General Counsel Sean Edgett.
Gadde was reportedly at the forefront of this dramatic decision to permanently suspend the Twitter account of former US President Donald.
Twitter has millions of users in India and the platform is extensively used by several government handles, politicians and businesses as a medium of disseminating views and information.
But the microblogging platform has had confrontations with the government, the most recent being compliance with the new IT rules.
The government notified IT rules last year to make digital intermediaries more accountable and responsible for content hosted on their platforms. The rules required social media companies to take down contentious content quicker, appoint grievance redressal officers and assist in investigations.
But even after providing for the redressal mechanism through the IT Rules 2021, user grievances remained unresolved, prompting the government to step in and propose an appellate jurisdiction framework.
Besides the standoff over new IT rules, a row erupted last year when Twitter blocked Prasad from accessing his account which ratcheted up tensions with the government.
Currently, a case is also being heard in the Karnataka High Court between Twitter and the Union Government over orders issued to take down certain accounts, tweets and links on its platform in national and public interest.
The social media giant has also faced issues over the depiction of maps. The Twitter website last year displayed a wrong map of the country that shows Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh as a separate country. This was not the first time that Twitter misrepresented India’s map. It had also shown Leh as part of China.
Twitter had marked several tweets by ruling BJP leaders on the ‘Toolkit’ document of the Opposition to target the government over COVID as containing ‘manipulated media’, which had prompted the police to visit its offices.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)