Twitter erupts as Jack Dorsey skips parliamentary hearing
India has to do more like the US to wield the big stick and get social media giants take the country seriously.
The panel had summoned representatives of Twitter and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to be present before it on Monday at 3 pm to examine the issue of “safeguarding citizens’ rights on social media/online news platforms”. Twitter said it wouldn’t be able to get Dorsey, who was recently in India, to the country on time.
Legal experts termed the whole exercise as pointless. “I think this is strange and there is no precedence to this in India. You can’t blame Twitter for not taking this seriously. Honestly, it is all political, to rally the cyber troops before elections,” said a leading technology lawyer, on condition of anonymity.
Parliamentary Committees hold the executive wing of the government accountable and review bills before they are introduced in Parliament.
MeitY, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry of Communications fall within the jurisdiction of the IT Standing committee headed by BJP MLA Anurag Thakur. Their primary mandate is to make recommendations to Parliament.
On Monday, tweets with hashtags such as #TwitterDefiesIndia #CheaterTwitter #TwitterInsultsIndia, flooded the platform, with users seeing Dorsey’s actions as a slight to the Indian government. Twitter users called for a ban on the social media website that is widely used by politicians, activists and journalists.
Twitter declined to comment on an email query sent by ET. The committee, which met on Monday, has given Twitter a 15-day notice to appear for a hearing. According to Statista, Twitter had an active user base of 30.4 million in 2018 in India, which is expected to grow to 34.4 million in 2019.
Indian filmmaker Ashoke Pandit tweeted, “Nobody is bigger than our parliament. No one has the right to insult the powers of the parliament. @Twitter‘s refusal to accept the summons should be dealt with seriousness. #TwitterInsultsIndia #TwitterDefiesIndia” ET had reported earlier that Twitter had deprioritised India as a market despite it being one of the bright spots in user growth on the back of poor sales metrics. While India sees higher traction by way of user base for internet and social companies, it doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue. The decision was part of the massive restructuring that took place at Twitter, led by its CEO Jack Dorsey, to prevent global revenue growth from stagnating. India’s poor sales metrics didn’t warrant strategic attention. Twitter has still not hired an India head since Taranjeet Singh quit in September last year.