Twitter needs India and Nigeria to grow. it’s running into trouble with both

The social media giant has been in a fight with the Indian government for months. on free speech and other issues, and is protesting the restrictive new rules pushed by New Delhi. If that wasn’t enough, even more dramatic events are unfolding thousands of miles away along the west coast of Africa.
Nigeria last week Blocked “Indefinitely” Twitter (TWTR) after company deleted a post from President Muhammadu Buhari threatened brutal crackdown on the unrest in Africa’s most populous country. nigerian government also ordered Federal prosecutors to arrest users of the app.
The ban in India and the ban in Nigeria are troublesome for Twitter. Although the company does not break down user data for these countries, independent research suggests that India is among its top five markets. Asia’s third largest economy – with 700 million internet Users and many more are yet to come online – Twitter is also a top growth market. During this, About 20% of Nigerians According to the NOI poll, a population of 200 million has Twitter accounts.

Now that Nigeria has shown that it is not afraid of banning Twitter, India may have some concerns if the dispute between New Delhi and the company cannot be resolved.

“If this continues, then China envy of the Indian government will become Nigeria envy,” tweeted Internet activist Nikhil Pahwa Founder of Delhi-based tech website MediaNama.

“If you continue to defy the government, you may see more calls to ban Twitter in India,” Pahwa told CNN Business.

Silicon Valley-based company’s response to political pressure These countries will determine their trajectory into the fastest growing economies that are critical to any global expansion strategy. Successfully navigating the tensions could give other US technology firms a roadmap for dealing with governments that have increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

New challenges abroad coincide with tensions at home, where Washington has shown willingness To rein in US tech giants. And it doesn’t help that former US President Donald Trump – who is currently banned from twitter Facebook (American Plan) – is urged other countries To follow the example of Nigeria.

Nigeria ‘weak’

Months of tension have led to Twitter problems in both Nigeria and India.

Twitter rebukes Nigerians when the company made the decision earlier this year To set up your first Africa Base in Ghana, rather than the continent’s largest economy.
Although almost 40 million Nigerians One Twitter account – more than the entire population of Ghana – has some geopolitical views that may have influenced Twitter’s decision. Ghana ranks 13 places above Nigeria in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business Index” in 2019. When declaration of decision In April, Twitter described Ghana as “a champion for democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom and the open internet.”

Tensions escalated this month when Twitter removed the post by Buhari for violating its policies on abusive behavior.

The country protested Twitter’s decision by banning the platform to allow the use of According to Nigeria’s Ministry of Information and Culture, “activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” in an interview with news agency afp, the ministry said it would reinstate Twitter if it “registers as a company in Nigeria.”
The company, meanwhile, where is It will “work to restore access to all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world.”

“The Nigeria sanctions will certainly make many other emerging economies think about how to capture the attention of the platforms,” ​​Gabenga Sesson, executive director of the Paradigm Initiative, which works on digital inclusion and rights in Africa, told CNN Told the business. He added that if Twitter meets Nigeria’s new registration requirements, “such countries could attempt a similar approach to obtain tax revenue.”

Threat to freedom of expression in India

In India, tensions ignited in February as protesters used Twitter to voice their opinions against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new agriculture law. company clash with government At the behest of the IT ministry to take down the accounts, eventually partially complying but refusing to act against journalists, activists or politicians.
In May, when the company decided to label a tweet a spokesperson for Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, police arrived at Twitter’s office in New Delhi. as “manipulated media”. the police said visitation It was “part of a routine process” for Twitter to cooperate with its investigation. social media company The move exploded as “intimidation tacticsand said it was “concerned” about the safety of its employees in the country.
of India New rules for social media Only the cold has intensified. They include demanding that companies create special roles in India to keep them in compliance with local law, and for firms To be in touch with law enforcement 24/7. There are also requirements that the Services remove certain types of content, including posts that contain “full or partial nudity”.

Twitter has said it has concerns about “key elements of the new IT regulations” and a “potential threat to freedom of expression” in the country. But the Modi government says the company is trying to “undermine India’s legal system” by “deliberately flouting” the rules.

“Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and follow the laws of the land,” the government said in a statement in May. “Law making and policy making is the sole prerogative of the sovereign and Twitter is just a social media platform and has no right. [place] In deciding what… India’s legal policy framework should be there.”

For many in India, the debate about the use of social media in the country is not about freedom of expression, but About a foreign company challenging the might of the Indian government, Pahwa told CNN Business. They said that The ban in Nigeria “adds more fuel to that fire.”

Hire Locally, Grow Locally

To survive and thrive in these emerging economies, companies like Twitter may have to invest more in local teams and understanding local laws, experts said.

A woman uses her cellphone in Srinagar, India.  Photo by Faisal Khan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

And government pressure is already undermining Twitter’s resolve.

After indicating its reservations with the new social media rules last month, the company has now said it is “deeply committed” to India, one of its biggest markets in the world.

“We have assured the Indian government that Twitter is making every effort to comply with the new guidelines, and an overview on our progress has been duly shared,” the company said in a statement this week. “We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian government.”

For Vivan Sharan, partner at Koan Advisory Group, a Delhi-based tech policy consulting firm, the Nigeria shutdown and the debate in India could be a “wake-up call” for Western social media companies to “moderate and develop local capacity in the country.” decision making for the offices of

“It’s certainly a tall order for new-age companies that are used to global scale and presence, without major investments on the ground,” he said.

“Most social media majors spend the largest chunk of their operational bandwidth on developed markets. This paradigm is unstable and is now beginning to shift.” she added. “Companies that do not double down on localization in emerging markets may find themselves on the wrong side of Splinternet.”

— Stephanie Busari in Lagos contributed to this report.


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