The data monopolisation and control over narratives through manipulating algorithms has been a talking point about giant tech firms worldwide. Especially, the conduct of social media platforms has been under a scanner for their non-state actor kind of behaviour with arbitrary policies. No wonder, Government of Bharat, came out with the (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 on February 25, 2021, to ensure transparency, ethical conduct and a vibrant grievance redressal mechanism. The rules also asked the social media and other IT platforms to comply with them within three months. “But, just as we do around the world, we will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency, a commitment to empowering every voice on the service, and protecting freedom of expression and privacy under the rule of law,” declared the Republic of Twitter instead of abiding with the law of the land. There cannot be bigger hypocrisy than this. All social media platforms have their own issues about transparency and monopolisation, which lead to undermining national sovereignty and individual right to free speech. So, Facebook sends notices to the news portals and digital platforms and restrict their traffic for speaking about the ‘Wuhan Virus’ theory, which is very much a testifiable proposition in the entire Covid Pandemic. From an undemocratic country like China, where Facebook or Twitter does not have access, they are ready to take orders. But have issues with a democratic country like Bharat that gave them three months to evolve a mechanism. In the US, Germany or Singapore, they are okay with following the rules and facing the parliamentary squeezing. In Bharat, with a vast customer base and huge profit share, they are showing tantrums while hiding behind the so-called civil society. Are the people talking about biases and non-transparent policies of these platforms, not citizens of Bharat? Does their voice not constitute the ‘civil society’ concerns? The claim of Twitter being transparent and freedom of expression is the most obnoxious and ridiculous, being the most notorious platforms of all. No one knows how and why specific handles get privileged recognition by the Republic of Twitter with a ‘blue tick’ when the application process is on hold on their website? Why particular requests are rejected. Why are certain so-called fact-checkers taken at face value while neglecting others, and certain contents are being restricted? How come non-promoted hashtags are listed with lesser tweets while others with higher numbers don’t? Shadowban, reducing followers or number of re-tweets, and arbitrary restriction or suspension of accounts defending Bharat and Bharatiya culture are usual occurrences and pointed out on Twitter itself. After all these characters of non-transparent behaviour like China, if Twitter is talking about transparency and FoE, it is a big sham. Either twitter should come out openly with its ideological inclination and say that the platform promotes only Communist-Islamist thinking or genuinely allow a level playing field for all. If the Twitter-like platforms claim to be intermediaries, they should behave like one. They should not impose their dictatorship with editorial bias. As a sovereign state, Bharat has every right to form new rules and laws. An oxymoron to transparency like Twitter or any other social media platform should not teach democratic values to the countrymen of an ancient civilisation. We, the citizens of Bharat, are your customers and the Government of Bharat represents our collective will. Hence, instead of seeing Bharat as a big market with a lack of spine, the social media platforms should comply with the new rules and adhere to true transparency. @PrafullaKetkar
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