It was always known as a leftists dominated place where an innocuous comment can land you in trouble. Mostly, that axe always fell on the right wing handles. The on-going farmer’s agitation has seen extensive use of Social Media in building up opinion, for and against the incidents that rocked the national capital on 26th January.
From students, to social media influencers to celebrities – everyone jumped in. From Twitter posts to Facebook live, everything has been used by the agitators, their supporters and right wing handlers have been indulging in a slugfest that India has not seen in the recent past. Twitter had jumped in after the election trend showed President Trump losing crucial states, marking many of his tweets as being disputed. But, nothing of that sort happened in India. Fake tweets by politicians including Rahul Gandhi, Sashi Tharoor journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai and bollywood celebrities were allowed to stay on without being taken down or marked as fake. Why this duplicity?
To understand this, one must look at how Twitter has today become a tool to build or mar individual reputations, bring down corporations and influence elections. One does not really understand this power till it hits home – as we saw how Twitter started tagging posts of President Donald Trump, one after another and then finally deactivated his account. That was in a way a warning to world leaders that Twitter was powerful than them.
It’s here that India needs to sit up and take notice. Twitter has been consistently removing tweets, shadow banning, reducing followers and even banning many right wing handles. It’s a different matter that leftists have a free run on twitter and many unknown handles with hardly any followers get blue ticks. China has handled this pretty well, banning all these US based Social Media and then replicating them with their own versions like Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ, Xiao Hong Shu and many others.
There is one thing that the ruling party of India has to realise. The country with 130 crore plus population, massive young segment, cheap data – all makes it a money spinner for companies like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram. If the powers in Delhi just yank off the connection, then these social media giants will be gone in a jiffy. This is something that Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are well aware. The so called farmer’s protests and the violence unleased on 26th January have proved to be the tipping point of Indian politics. Even a kid could have seen through the game of protests being sponsored with funds channeled from terror front organizations, paid celebrities and opposition parties. India has been clamouring for its own Social Media versions of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube. That moment has perhaps arrived.