If there one thing I pat myself on the back about is my God-given ability to read a strategy deployed by a strategist and I can say without an iota of doubt that Twitter is working on a macro-strategy to keep the ministers busy fighting fake news and defending its IT Rules while the social media platform continues with its defiance stance.
Imagine the waste of time of India’s Union Minister of Law, Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad giving interviews to most media channels about the Indian government stand on its new Information Technology Rules for social media platforms after Twitter displayed its defiance.
Someone as senior as Ravi Shankar Prasad does not need to justify India’s stand on its own new IT laws to a foreign business entity. Twitter is not a sovereign nation that an Indian minister needs to take the fight to the media that lured him into the fight in the first place. A bureaucrat in the Department of Information and Technology could have done the talking. Or one could have relied on spokespersons like Dr. Sambit Patra and Sanju Verma to do the talking.
If an Indian minister needs to justify India’s stance and display bravado of action while subtly trying to act tough it is downright foolish. If you want to shoot, shoot, don’t talk, goes the popular adage.
Twitter is a business entity and needs to comply with the business laws in India.
Reportedly, some experts at the United Nations Office of the Human Rights Commissioner have said in a report that it is concerned that Indias Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, in their current form, do not conform with international human rights norms.
The observations were made in Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.
Now it appears that the United Nations is going to tell India what kind of business laws it needs to follow or not because of the politically motivated social media platform Twitter.
India of course has dismissed criticism of its new IT rules relating to social media by three UN special rapporteurs on rights issues saying the country’s democratic credentials are well recognized and the right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under its Constitution.
“The concerns alleging potential implications for freedom of expression that the new IT Rules will entail are highly misplaced,” India’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva said in a strongly worded response, asserting that the rules are “designed to empower ordinary users” of social media.
The enactment of these rules had become necessary following widespread concerns about increasing instances of abuse of social media and digital platforms, it said.
Even the recent fake news incident with regards to an old man in a train who was beaten up by a group of young men was played out on social media platforms like Twitter by the known miscreants of the Anti-Modi Brigade giving it a communal color. Most of the troublemakers from media and politics turned a religiously sensitive respectable prayer ‘Jai Shri Ram’ into a communal call.
Twitter being true to its intent to give space to the deliberate provoking of Hindu sentiments in India and to show the Indian government as being a Hindu supremacist government did not delete the lies spread over the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ fake incident.
Twitter continues to remain defiant even though it has lost its status as an intermediary platform in India due to non-compliance with new IT rules. This means instead of being considered just a platform hosting content from various users, Twitter will be directly editorially responsible for posts published on its platform.
The implication of this development is that if there is any charge against Twitter for alleged unlawful content it would be treated as a publisher – not an intermediary – and be liable for punishment under any law, including IT Act, as also the penal laws of the country.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology grilled two Twitter India representatives for about 1.5 hours last week.
Sources privy at that meeting told me in confidence that the committee was unanimous in asking Twitter to comply with the new IT rules framed by the central government. MPs across the party line told the social media giant that it must follow Indian laws. It was also learned that when committee members asked Twitter whether its company rules are more important than the laws framed by the government, Twitter representatives reportedly gave a “vague response” saying “Twitter rules are equally important for them”.
Twitter rules are equally important is the defiant stand of Twitter.
In fact, during the meeting, when Twitter was questioned about the criteria on the basis on which it tags tweets as “manipulated media”. Twitter said it is an intermediary, and “whatever we think is not good for society, we tag them”. “We have a policy. We have equal respect for the law of land.”
By that logic, Twitter finds that a piece of fake news by known fake news peddlers that form a part of the Anti-Modi Brigade and feature in numerous Toolkit expose to be good for society therefore it was not tagged a manipulated media. Then it is evidentiary that Twitter is co-accomplice in the act of misinformation that could have led to serious communal overtures and must therefore be penalized by the government and the laws of India and not lectured on the need to comply with Indian laws.
Today, Twitter cocked another snook at the Indian government when the Twitter Verified gave the Popular Front of India (PFI) a Blue Tick.
In a 2010 dossier on Popular Front of India (PFI), the Intelligence Bureau has stated that PFI is a Confederation of Islamic organizations which were collaborating with the banned Islamic terrorist organization Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). It also stated that it was spreading its reach in Kerala, Delhi, Manipur, Goa, Rajasthan, UP, Bengal, Karnataka, and West Bengal.
PFI dossier also highlighted the fact that organizations like the Citizen’s Forum, Goa, Community Social, and Educational Society, Rajasthan, Nagrik Adhikar Suraksha Samiti, West Bengal, Liong Social Forum, Manipur, and the Association of Social Justice, Andhra Pradesh were all part of PFI’s growing network.
In 2017, calls for a ban on PFI got fresh impetus after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) submitted to the home ministry a comprehensive dossier that listed the Islamic group’s links with terror-related cases that the agency had investigated. The NIA dossier said the PFI was the second avatar of the National Development Front which was formed in 1993 after the Babri Masjid demolition and subsequent riots.
I suppose an organization responsible for the Delhi riots. Known to be directly linked with the terrorist organizations working against India’s interest are for the good of society and can be verified.
Twitter’s strategy against Modi is simple – poke and run, watch the fun.