NOW THAT WE know that Twitter will pay the price for not following guidelines, primarily the appointing of employees who the Government can interface with when it wants to armtwist the social media platform, the rhetorical question that comes to mind is who in his right mind would want to take up such vacancies with them. Here is a company that has become so hostage to its own wokeness that it banned the president of the US the minute he was out of power. It plays its little woke games in every country in the world, an ideological private war that its employees are faring sitting in the cocoon of Silicon Valley, where everyone is telling each other that they are making a better world while becoming very wealthy. They indulge in this in a country where freedom of speech is overarching and embossed into the constitution. There are no Yogi Adityanaths in the US standing with a bow whose string is stretched with an arrow on which UAPA is written. And the quiver is packed tight with these arrows, one for every Indian who is potentially eligible to be made unbailable. Anyone who agrees to be Twitter’s compliance officer in India knows that the job comes with the hanging sword of jail time. Most of the world is made of such nations, which regard liberties as an irritant. Twitter tried to do a Trump in Nigeria and promptly got booted out from the country.
Twitter’s punishment is comeuppance. It is now liable for content that goes on the platform, and has no protection of being just a non-interfering intermediary. It was designed to be a highway on which any car could go and if someone drove like a maniac, it was up to the police to take them out and not the company that made the highway. In between, Twitter decided it wanted to participate. It banned people, silenced them, censored them, all the while using words—‘in the interest of promoting free conversation’—which would have made Joseph Goebbels proud. It is not the right wing alone, though they make up the majority, that has been its victims. But, no matter who is banned by Twitter, every such action proved that it was not just an intermediary. It was deciding who could be on its highway, and if that is true, then why should it get the protection of the unbiased party.
Even so, it is no cause for cheer. The government does not seek to punish Twitter in the interest of free speech either. What it wants is what every politician wants—control over what can bring him back to power and Twitter remains this age’s most potent political tool. That is why the Uttar Pradesh police registers a case against Twitter and journalists, all of whom are coincidentally bitter critics of the government, for retweets that have been done by lakhs of users. Between the tyranny of the government and the tyranny of a private company, an Indian is always better off with the latter. Because once you log off, Twitter is out of your life, but the government is permanently around demanding a piece of you.