Amidst the ongoing tussle between the micro-blogging site Twitter and the Indian government over the former’s reluctance to comply with the country’s laws, the social media giant has decided to not appoint any country director for its operations in India. The move comes amidst the shadow-boxing between Rahul Gandhi and Twitter, in a bid to prove that Twitter is ‘neutral’.
In this regard, Twitter has removed Twitter India’s current Managing Director Manish Maheshwari from his post and has been transferred to a new role in the US.
According to the reports, Twitter India will now appoint a ‘leadership council’ with key executives, who will directly be reporting to Twitter’s overseas executives.
Twitter has confirmed that Manish Maheshwari will not be quitting the company but will be moving to the US. He is appointed as the Senior Director, Revenue Strategy and Operations focused on New Market Entry.
Manish Maheshwari (Managing Director of Twitter India) is staying at Twitter, and moving into a new role based in San Francisco as Senior Director, Revenue Strategy and Operations focused on New Market Entry: Yu Sasamoto, Vice President of Japan & Asia Pacific, Twitter.— ANI (@ANI) August 13, 2021
Meanwhile, Vice-President of Twitter JAPC, Yu Sasamoto, tweeted, “Thank you to @manishm for your leadership of our Indian business over the past 2+ years. Congrats on your new US-based role in charge of revenue strategy and operations for new markets worldwide. Excited to see you lead this important growth opportunity for Twitter.”
Thank you to @manishm for your leadership of our Indian business over the past 2+ years. Congrats on your new US-based role in charge of revenue strategy and operations for new markets worldwide. Excited to see you lead this important growth opportunity for Twitter.— yu-san (@yusasamoto) August 13, 2021
According to an email accessed by Moneycontrol, Kanika Mittal, current Head of Sales at Twitter and Neha Sharma Katyal, current Business Head, Twitter, will co-lead India and will be reporting to Yu Sasamoto, who is the VP of Twitter JAPAC/Twitter Japan.
The decision to move Manish Maheshwari out of India comes amidst the standoff between the Indian government and Twitter over compliance with new IT rules. Twitter India and the US headquarters have also been named as one of the accused in the case filed by the Ghaziabad police on June 15 for sharing a fake video of an assault on a 65-year-old person in the city.
The UP Police had sent notice to Manish Maheshwari under Section 160 and Section 41A for appearing before the Ghaziabad police for further enquiry. However, this was challenged by Maheshwari, and he filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court. During his hearing, Maheshwari had that despite being the senior-most employee of Twitter India’s subsidiary Twitter Communications India Private Limited, he was not aware of the company’s directors.
Speaking to OpIndia, sources in the government have indicated that Twitter India is deliberately keeping its operations vague in India to try and circumvent the IT guidelines issued by the government of India where Twitter needs to ensure that it has a compliance officer in India and functions as an intermediary, not a publisher. Sources believe that the transfer of Manish Maheshwari is a ‘trick’ to escape the punishment for not complying with the IT guidelines issued by the Modi govt by keeping their operations as vague as they can.
Twitter India engages in shadow boxing with Congress as it falls out of favour with the Centre
Twitter, on the other hand, raised the hackles of the central government with its blatant bias in the toolkit fiasco. The response from the Indian government was severe and unrelenting. A new digital law was soon notified, asking social media organisations operating in the country to abide by the law or risk losing legal indemnity. While all social media companies fell in line and complied with the law, Twitter, in its hubris, did not follow the law and cried hoarse that the Indian government was suppressing the freedom of expression.
The Indian government, however, remained undaunted by Twitter’s objections and asked the social media behemoth to follow the rules or face the consequences. As a result, Twitter lost its intermediary status and was now liable to face prosecution. The BJP government at the centre has made it clear to Twitter that it will be treated at par with other social media organisations, with no special treatment being extended to the social media giant.
With Twitter falling out of favour with the central government, Twitter India and Congress seem to be engaged in shadow-boxing to once again prove that they indeed do not have a “liberal” bias but are neutral. However, if the above instances are anything to go by, they reveal the symbiotic relationship that Twitter India and the Congress party share with each other.
In fact, one cannot rule out that this entire charade is being put up so that when Twitter starts suspending BJP or “right leaning” accounts in the run-up to Uttar Pradesh elections, arbitrarily and unfairly, as it has in the past, Twitter can simply claim that it is “neutral” because it even locked the account of Rahul Gandhi. The Congress itself would also shut down any criticism of Twitter later saying that they are not a “biased platform”. It is pertinent to note that Twitter does indeed meddle in democracies and fancies itself as an arbitrator of information, however, that criticism, as true as it may be, seems misplaced when it comes from the Congress party that seems to be using the tech-giant to silent voices of differing political ideologies.
Therefore, Rahul Gandhi’s latest protestation that Twitter is a “puppet” and acting at the behest of the Modi government is not only profoundly misleading but also a shoddy attempt to cast the social media giant as “neutral” or perhaps “anti-Congress”.