Even as Twitter India is in the dock for allowing fake videos to spread on its platform, its India leadership appears to be already washing its hands off its responsibilities.
Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari has quietly changed his Twitter bio. Until last night, Manish Maheshwari’s Twitter bio read “MD, Twitter India.” It has now been changed to read “Trying to run business @TwitterIndia while savouring the little luxuries of life that COVID has made us so appreciative of. Believe in love, peace and reflection.”
While Maheshwari now seems to have turned poetic and appreciative of the little beauties of life, his bio until recently was a lot more business-like. “Managing Director @Twitter India. He/Him. Global citizen by heart = Indian. Views personal. No power to verify,” his bio read before it was changed.
It’s unclear why the Twitter India MD is now trying to hide the fact that he is indeed Twitter’s India MD, but Twitter has been in the dock in India for a while. After refusing to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer in India for weeks, Twitter had reportedly lost its “intermediary” status, which allowed it legal protection from content shared on its platform. Soon after, muted videos had been shared on Twitter of a man being beaten up, with the fake claim that he was being forced to chant Jai Shri Ram. After the UP Police had investigated the case and determined that many of the attackers were themselves Muslim, and the claim about the man being forced to chant Jai Shri Ram was fake, it had gone ahead and filed an FIR, and named Twitter as one of the accused for spreading fake news to inflame communal passions.
Crucially, Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari had been summoned by the UP Police, and had been directed to appear at the Loni Police Station within a week. It appears that before his appearance before the UP Police, Maheshwari is trying to hide evidence that he is indeed Twitter’s India MD, possibly to escape prosecution in the case.
But Manish Maheshwari’s public distancing from the Twitter India MD label raises even more questions than it answers. If Twitter’s India MD is hinting that he isn’t responsible for Twitter’s editorial decisions in India, including applying Manipulated Media labels and shadowbanning and promoting tweets, and Twitter resolutely refusing to appoint a Compliance Officer, Indian courts have no Indian citizen to turn to over questions around Twitter’s policies and decisions. This should be a cause for even more alarm in government circles — a massive social network with crores of Indian users appears to essentially be running from its US headquarters, without any accountability in India.