Twitter started as a microblogging platform in 2006. In the last 14 years it has grown to about 330 million monthly active users of which about 40% (145 million) use it on a daily basis. (Refer here). Over the last few years, the twitter growth has hit a plateau and even marginally declined.
India is the third largest market for Twitter and there are an estimated 18.9 million users (There are other higher estimates also). Recently the US user base would have shrunk because some of the Trump supporters quit Twitter and migrated to other platforms.
But social media other platforms like You Tube and FaceBook, are much more used than Twitter.
In India, Twitter was popularized by the TV Channels and anchors like Mr Arnab Goswami who started linking the TV debates to the Twitter hashtags. This cross media selling helped Twitter to become a platform to express political views tied to the day’s debate.
The biggest strength of Twitter is that it has now reached a certain level of operations at which it looks attractive as a social media. Hence advertisers place a value which gets reflected in the market capitalization.
But Internet has seen the downfall of Alta Vista, Orkut and marginalization of Yahoo.com. It has seen the death of Napster with 20 million loyal users at one time. So it is not unthinkable that Twitter cannot die or at least becomes less prominent as it is now.
We can expect a similar effect on Twitter also. The key to Twitter success in India is that today NaMo and PMO along with all the Government ministries have Twitter accounts. the MPs, MLAs have their accounts. All media vehicles have their accounts. As a result, lot of political discussions occur on Twitter platform.
In case the Government decides to move out of Twitter onto an alternate platform, then over night Twitter popularity will fall. The general users will also feel that if their views are not reaching the political masters what is the use of posting in Twitter. The opposition parties will continue to use Twitter since they are part of the international “News Manipulator Syndicate” which is paid for their campaigns. But such campaigns will lose steam when the main stream media in India and the more serious media users stop viewing them.
Twitter has taken a decision to project itself as an authority that can take on the Indian Government and refuse to obey the orders under Section 69(A). This is a legal non compliance and irrespective of their global moral ground, is still a violation that can be punished with the complete blocking of Twitter in Indian ISPs.
There is no doubt that such a move will attract some reference to the Supreme Court on the “Freedom of Speech” issue. But twitter is a commercial foreign company and is not entitled to the “Right to Freedom of Speech” as a fundamental right under our constitution.
Twitter has given up its status as an “Intermediary” under ITA 2000/8 since it resorts to its own content censorship and does not remain a neutral platform. It is not strictly a “Media” since it is a “Blogging Platform” where “Individual Opinions” form the content and this is not “News” per se.
Twitter’s position today in comparison to news paper is that in a news paper of say 16 pages, 14 pages are made out of “Letters to the Editor”, one page of news and one page of advertisement. This cannot be equated to a “Media” and given the status of the “Fourth Pillar of Democracy”.
Twitter has its own content regulation team with its own bias of ideology which is anti-Trump in USA and anti-Modi in India. It is used as a platform to promote a “Promote Anarchy in India” tool kit which is part of the “Information War” on India.
Hence India has every right to block Twitter.
Obviously, blocking Twitter overnight would create a vacuum in the social media space. But people will quickly adjust to the situation and move over to TV channels or Messaging groups for information exchange.
However, it is always better to have an alternative so that people can move over. At present Koo and Tooter appear to be two alternatives available in India.
Both apps need to prove that they are able to scale up to a much higher level in terms of their ability to meet the sudden upsurge of membership if it happens. But no business was born in a day and given the right kind of support it is possible for these apps to become useful alternatives to Twitter.
I would urge all those who would like to fight the Twitter attitude to shift to one of these apps or try both for the time being and ensure that our national self reliant attitude gets reflected.
But the challenge has to be first accepted by the MeitY. Vested interests wield an enormous influence in the decisions of MeitY and it has always fallen short of courage when action is required to be taken against foreign tech giants. Even now MeitY is unlikely to take the next step of blocking Twitter for which it has the necessary legal powers just now.
If MeitY goes ahead and executes the block, Twitter will go to Supreme Court and let the Supreme Court debate the issue. MeitY should defend it’s stand on the basis of its “Duty” to defend the nation against “Information Warfare”.
On the other hand if MeitY develops cold feet, it is likely that Twitter or their anti national agents in India will file their own petitions first in the Supreme Court and prevent the Government from taking action for the time being with a stay or a caveat.
As regards bringing pressure on Twitter, we urge the Government of India to shift all its activities on Twitter at present to Tooter or Koo or both. Let there be a “Twitter Silence” for some time so that twitter understands what it is to challenge the Indian sovereignty.
It is a common knowledge that collaboration is only possible when there is a mutual perception of power. If Twitter thinks it is more powerful than the Indian Government, it is time for the Indian Government to show that Twitter is wrong. Indian Government of the day has the popular support and the people of India by majority endorse the current Government action.
All this façade of “Farmer’s Protest” is only a mask for “Anti India” cyber war.
It would be fair if the MeitY does make a public announcement that they recognize that India is in an Information Warfare with a group of Khalistani supporters along with the traditional Pakistani Jihadis and their decision to block Twitter is guided by the national interest to defend our information boundaries.
Let us as citizens of India join the fight and adopt a campaign “Twitter Silence” by displaying the following banner on all our Internet assets.