In a display of arrogance and high-handedness, Twitter refused to comply with the Indian laws and instead decided to enforce its ‘own rules’. While citing freedom of speech on Wednesday, the micro-blogging site refused to adhere to the government’s directives and block the handles of those individuals inciting and advocating violence under the garb of anti-farm law agitation. This sparked off a spat between the Indian government and the social media giant. However, later the site blocked most of the accounts as asked by the government.
Amidst the controversy, several companies have been mulling to pull out the plug on advertising on Twitter, according to a report by The Economic Times. Quoting brand experts and advertisers, the report said that while most brands are sitting on the fence at present, watching how the Twitter-government face-off plays out, some of them may pull back ads from the platform in the coming days depending on how the situation evolves.
According to brand strategy expert Harish Bijoor, brands tend to move away from advertising on platforms that are under threat of any kind. “For every Twitter, there is a Koo waiting in the wings. For the new apps, it is a big opportunity, though they will take some time and traction for the ability to perform with an equal degree of seamlessness as Twitter,” he emphasised.
As per the ‘fact checkers’, the social media platform has scored a ‘self goal’ by not adhering to the government’s directives of removing Twitter accounts with objectionable content. Interactive Avenues’ Shantanu Sirohi said that brands would pull back advertising from Twitter within a short time and watch how the ongoing spat panned out with the Indian government. He added that companies would not find it difficult to make changes to their advertising budget.
Global companies have to abide by a country’s laws, say experts
Newsmobile.in founder Saurabh Shukla said, “You have to realise that any global company has to abide by the laws of the country. The problem is that Twitter continued to ignore the problem of misinformation and fake news for so long. They were casual about it. You need specialised domain experts for sifting out sensitive content that may impinge national security which any government will not take lightly.”
It must be mentioned that Twitter constitutes only 5% of India’s online ad market (₹18000 crores), whereas Google and Facebook make up about 75%. While Twitter reported a 28% rise in income ($1.29 billion) in the last quarter, experts are divided on the impact the ongoing controversy will have on its ad revenue in India.
Will the ongoing spat impact Twitter’s revenues in India
According to Amit Tripathi, the managing director at IdeateLabs, only a small fraction of the ad budget is allocated to Twitter. He said that there is no word from any of his client to pull out advertising from the microblogging site. With hashtags such as ‘Koo App’, ‘Ban Twitter India’, ‘Ban Twitter’, ‘Twitter hypocrisy’ and ‘BJP Govt Dictating Twitter’ dominating the social media platform, Zafar Rais associated with Mindshift Interactive informed that his company had extensive discussions with their clients. Despite being allocated the budget for new quarter, they are in a ‘wait and watch’ mode.