Will you be my Valentine, Modiji? Waise toh… I will be ‘hearting’ every post that features you. Valentine’s Day makes most of us mushy. Thank God your government has not banned it…remember that clumsy attempt by some out-of-work local politician in Maharashtra who tried and failed a few years ago? You are far more progressive and romantic by nature, Modiji — we have all seen and admired your kinder, gentler side. We also wiped a tear when we watched you cry for your friend Ghulam Nabi Azad in Parliament this week. Pyaar-vyaar always triumphs over nafrat. That’s what these Twitter bosses have to realise. We in India are very emotional people. But when someone upsets us, we hit back hard — hai, na? See how quickly Twitter fell into line, kissed and made up? It was like a lover’s quarrel that was ‘amicably’ patched up. Most issues in life can be amicably settled — as Lataji and Sachinji and Akshayji tweeted. ‘Amicable’ is a good word, and your PR people made wonderful use of it during that faltu controversy with some Barbadian entertainer whose name hardly anyone in India knows. Big big international companies and personalities are scared of India — that much is certain. Look at Twitter! Quietly agreeing to pull down accounts of trouble-makers identified by your administration. Darr gaye! These firangi companies only understand tough talk — and you, sir, excel at it!
Aur phir, you quickly came up with a challenge round also! What an idea, sirji — Koo is a coup! No doubt about it. I am also thinking of joining Koo and chirping away. If Piyush Goyal, Ravi Shankar Prasad and other mahaan folks can abandon Twitter and start new handles on Koo, so should all other hyper-loyal patriots. Let’s show those Twitter-wallas — hum kisi se kam nahi! More than a million active users within days on Koo though I am still not sure how it sounds if you say, “Did you Koo this morning?” Or, “Hey, my Koo went viral”, “My Koo was taken down just now,” “I just Koo-ed.” I dunno. It sounds a little — errrm — obscene?
Koo needs a little getting used to. Fans of Koo (launched in March last year) insist it has a nice ring to it. My generation associates Koo with a certain Koo Stark, who shot to fame as Prince Andrew’s girlfriend. Randy Andy, as the tabloids dubbed him, had presented the luscious Koo (allegedly an adult films performer) a message tee shirt that read, ‘Here comes trouble’. Ummm… I’m not saying anything, baba…
Well in the current face off, it looks like Twitter blinked, blocking 97% of handles on the government list, with due process being followed for the rest. This is a climbdown that was unexpected and inevitable given how the screws were being tightened. IT Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney met with Twitter’s Monique Meche and Jim Baker to ‘amicably’ sort out the tricky issue before it escalated. ‘Inflammatory content’ has been blocked for now. Let’s be honest — Twitter can’t afford to be shut out of India’s vast market.
BJP leader Vinit Goenka had filed a petition last May asking for a mechanism to check fake news, stating that there were hundreds of fake Twitter handles and Facebook accounts in the name of famous people. Well, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde has issued notices on the matter. Mission Social Media Regulation is under way.
The implications are vast, complex and innumerable. Social media is the hungriest monster known to mankind. Insatiable too. ‘I tweet, therefore I am’ is the new Descartes. If eminent people are not on some platform or other, they do not exist. Staying relevant on chosen platforms is not as easy as it looks. Twitter is ganja. Dope. Coke. Morphine. Addicts plead utter helplessness when it comes to staying away. Withdrawal symptoms start kicking in within twenty-four hours.
Twitter is intrusive, potentially dangerous and also horribly irresistible.
Tame this beast and another beast will promptly raise its ugly head! Fake news, fake accounts, fake profiles — hey — welcome to the Republic of Fake. Everything is kinda fake out there, anyway — people, politics, policies. Choose the fake that suits you and get on with life. Go ahead and block 1,398 handles …buy time, buy peace. Chances are 10,000 more will come up. Jaaney bhi do yaaron — tweet and be damned. Tweet and face the consequences. Tweet and hit the headlines.
So, how about billing and Koo-ing on Valentine’s Day, guys? Eat your heart out, Twitter!
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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