Twitter and the Indian government are involved in a nasty face off

The winner is a new app called Koo



Twitter India

Twitter finds itself stuck in an odd situation — comply with government law or continue self-moderation? Who decides what can stay up on the platform and what cannot? The new challenges of governing social media has received a lot of attention globally, and the debate has intensified in India recently.

Following a massive protest demonstration in Delhi on January 26, the Indian government asked the American social media giant to take down 257 accounts, allegedly spread misinformation, and incited violence. The country recently enacted three new farm laws that have received considerable opposition in some parts of the country.

After the notice was sent, Twitter briefly suspended many of those accounts at the government’s behest but reinstated them a few hours later due to public outrage. The accounts included media publications like The Caravan as well as handles supporting the farmer protests.

Many view this as a crackdown on dissent and feel the government is trying to silence genuine opposition. However, the government asked Twitter to take down another 1,200 accounts on February 4, justifying that security agencies flagged them due to their close association with Khalistan’s separatist movement.

Government vs. Twitter

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) has sent a non-compliance notice to Twitter. Critics say the government uses its power to suppress freedom of speech and the Twitter takedown sets a precedent for the future.

Twitter chose to remain defiant, issuing a public statement that its employees’ safety was a top priority but that the tweets must continue to flow. In fact, it went all-in and countered the government by saying it has acted on several blocking requests from the government in the past 10 days. But it declined to take any action on news publications, journalists, activists, and politicians as it believes that doing so “would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.”

And this is where the government lost its patience. It was quick to say that Twitter “is welcome to do business in India” but must respect local laws. As a slight nudge, the ministry opened an account on Koo, India’s local alternative of Twitter, and posted a “koo” there. This prompted many to believe that a Twitter ban could be near the horizon; alas, this is just speculation.

India soon issued a very strong-worded statement, “Due to India’s conducive business environment, open Internet and a firm commitment to the freedom of expression, Twitter as a platform has grown significantly in India in the last few years…Twitter, as a business entity working in India must also respect Indian laws and democratic institutions.”

What does the future hold?

The discussion now revolves around content moderation and maintaining its integrity. Should a private for-profit company be allowed to censor or monitor what kind of content is being posted online? Can we let governments dictate policies? Especially when this gives them an easy option to crush dissent and offers more control.

The Indian government has also accused Twitter of  “differential treatment” in the US and India. The platform was quick to remove then-President Donald Trump when Capitol Riots were underway but did little to curb the flow of misinformation when thousands had seized India’s Red Fort as a sign of protest.

In the end, Twitter said it had permanently blocked over 500 accounts and moved an unspecified number of others from view within India. It remains to be seen how Twitter and government move forward, but one thing’s clear — a new wave of nationalism wants a local Twitter alternative.

With more than 700 million internet users, India is a huge and important market for global tech companies. Every company wants to lead the market due to its incredible size and potential. TikTok lost the market forever, but Reels was able to grab the opportunity. Can Twitter afford to go up against the government, from a business point of view?


YouTube improves guidelines against medical misinformation

Taking the fight to the next level



Google is taking its fight against medical misinformation on its streaming platform to the next level.

YouTube has started streamlining its existing medical information guidelines, categorizing them into “Prevention”, “Treatment”, and “Denial” for a solid foundation for developing guidelines as other medical data arises.

Prevention will remove any information that contradicts prevention and transmission of health conditions.

This includes content around harmful substances, practices, or prevention methods, as well as claims that there is guaranteed protection against diseases like COVID-19 or other cases such as videos saying that MMR vaccines cause autism.

Treatment, meanwhile, deletes content that contradicts treatment of health conditions. For example, a video that promotes the use of caesium chloride (cesium salts), Hoxsey therapy, and coffee enema, among others, for cancer treatment shall be banned.

Lastly, Denial erases content that disputes the existence of a health condition. A popular instance would be videos denying that there is COVID-19, or that people have not died from the contagious disease.

Apart from these improved guidelines, YouTube plans to make playlists of cancer-related videos, partnering with Mayo Clinic for informational content.

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WhatsApp might soon let you chat with Telegram, other apps

Beta is ongoing



The European Union’s effect on Apple is well documented. The region is forcing the company to adopt USB-C as a standard. However, Apple isn’t the only target of the European Union’s ire. It is also targeting companies that it deems a “gatekeeper” in the world of technology. Meta is one of those companies. In response to the European Union, Meta is working on a WhatsApp update which allows cross-platform messaging.

Currently, WhatsApp does not allow users to interact with users on other messaging platforms like Telegram and WeChat. According to an ongoing beta spotted by WABetaInfo, Meta’s messaging app might soon allow users to message these third-party platforms straight from the app. Recipient users won’t need a WhatsApp account to use the feature.

After naming the world’s biggest tech companies as gatekeepers, the European Union is forcing them to enable interoperability with competing brands. WhatsApp’s new beta is an effort to comply with these new rules. Meta is required to implement the update by March next year.

The report does not reveal much about how the third-party chats will work. For example, will chats between platforms have the same features as chats between those on the same platform. If anything, WABetaInfo believes that WhatsApp will still retain the end-to-end encryption enjoyed by the main platform.

There is no word on when WhatsApp plans to implement the feature for all users.

SEE ALSO: WhatsApp now lets users share photos in HD

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Pick.A.Roo Wholesale announced for small, medium businesses

Improving the supply chain



Pick.a.roo Wholesale

Pick.A.Roo is introducing an innovative feature called Pick.A.Roo Wholesale which shall help the supply chain for small to medium-sized enterprises, including independent restaurants and bars.

This will let such business owners have direct access to the industry’s biggest suppliers and outlets, like S&R Wholesale, SuySing, Tiptop Distribution Inc., Farmer’s Market, Boozy, and more.

The collaboration between Pick.A.Roo and suppliers will allow the app to deliver to 40 key cities from a catalogue of about 400,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs), improving the way small and medium businesses can conveniently access supplies.

The streamlined approach eliminates the challenges of supply and stocking while giving owners flexibility for their orders, which can be delivered in a matter of hours.

Pick.A.Roo is available on the App Store and Google Play.

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