Why users are angry with Twitter in India, exiting the platform, exploring other options?
Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
Upset with arbitrary action against users, failure of Twitter to check hate and a host of issues that include 'dual' policy regarding verification, a lot of users are leaving the social media platform in India.
Many users took a 24 hr break from Twitter while others decided to shift to Mastodon, another social media platform. In the last couple of days, there have been hashtags against Twitter India management, that have been trending at the top.
Bahujan leaders, activists and intellectuals have led this movement as they feel 'blue tick' (verification) is a process that lacks transparency and that Twitter India's management fails to understand the diversity of the country and is biased against Backwards, Dalits, Tribals and Minorities.
Clearly, Twitter is facing a serious trouble in India, which has a huge market and a growing number of subscribers. Though people had expressed anger in the past too, the decision to block Advocate Sanjay Hedge's account has prompted many users to look for another platform.
Selective, arbitrary action
Apart from anger, it was also a sense of dejection with Twitter, as people feel any account may be blocked. Hegde's account was suspended for posting translation of Gorakh Pandey's poem. Despite users' appeals, Twitter remained firm on the decision to suspend the account.
Kannan Gopinanthan who recently quit Indian Administrative Service (IAS), tweeted that if Sanjay's account was not reinstated, he would boycott Twitter for 24 hrs. Later, he tweeted and confirmed that he would be slowly moving to mastodon. The anger is directed at Twitter.
No action against fake news, hate peddlers
Hundreds of other users too have announced that they would either immediately or steadily move to other platforms. The grouse with Twitter is that its policies are not clear--on one had accounts that share fake news and are serial offenders when it comes to peddling hate, are not blocked, other users are suspended for merely sharing a phone number with the intent of seeking blood for someone or helping a person.
There are users whose share false information and it has been debunked by authorities, yet, they remain on Twitter. But other users are punished and there is no clarity, no prope communication, no announcement, no recourse available. In the last few days hashtags about Twitter's selective action, its alleged bias and failure to check hate, have trended.
Shady handles tweeting false information are 'verified'
Activists of Bhim Army even went to Twitter India office in Mumbai and held talks with officials. Still, several accounts were blocked for seemingly innocuous Tweets. Some users were also hastily given 'blue ticks' while the company maintains that it has put the 'verificiation' process on hold.
In fact, the process was on hold for a long time. Yet, the verification of certain handles continued--allegedly through PR agencies, middle-men and companies in touch with Twitter. On one hand several legendary personalities don't have verified accounts, fake news peddlers have been given 'verified' status.
'Hate hashtags' that gave boycott call of community remained, other hashtags 'vanish'
The 'hate hashtags' that gave call for boycott of an entire community (Muslims in India) were not stopped by Twitter but other hashtags that were trended (criticizing Twitter and its policies) would mysteriously vanish (taken off), and this further angered users.
One thing is clear--Twitter has emerged as a major social media platform in India but it needs to be transparent, more responsive, its policies should be clear and must bring its house in order. It can't be biased to such an extent that rules are applied differently for users and in such a blatant manner.
Just don't preach, practice too
As Twitter continues to face heat in India, the company announced issued a statment and today said that, 'we are impartial and do noot take action based upon ideology or political viewpoint". This is just taking a high moral ground, while acting in a clearly biased manner and failing to enforce Twitter's own rules about safety.
It also shows a stubborn attitude, lack of willingness to listen and insensitivity. They are either keeping eyes closed to accounts spreading hatred or remaining indifferent to others users' complaints because they feel users don't have options. Such hyprocrisy can't work for long. This has definitely hurt the credibility of Twitter.