I set up my Twitter account way back in 2008. Sounds almost primitive now.
When I ‘joined’ Twitter, it felt like a multi-theme cultural festival. There were people discussing music, cinema, food, costumes, poetry, creativity, philosophy, science, et cetera and sometimes politics, too. Sounds primitive.
But what really attracted me was the uncensored humour. A typical day on Twitter would start with motivation, discussions on headlines, some satirical trolling, food, fashion, movies in the evening, and, after a few drinks, a typical Twitter day would end with a satirical trend where everyone participated.
#DrunkTweets would often flash up in trending topics. People from all spectrums interacted freely. Also, the limit was only 140 characters. An idea, when restricted to fewer words, becomes sharper.
Every tweet, in 140 characters, was the essence of a central idea on which people elaborated. Blocking or muting was a rare phenomenon.
Of course, this was typical first world behaviour. Exactly like when the Jaipur Literature Festival used to be an elitist event.
Twitter then attracted the elite of Lutyens. Wherever elites go, media follows. Soon, media started reporting from Twitter. Not the news but the creative tweets.
The media would quote tweets of famous, but anonymous, trolls which summed up a major debating topic, in novel satire.
There was an informal competition between Twitterati as to who would write better to be quoted by the media.
Of course, there were opinions but the opinions didn’t concern the common man: the common man wasn’t concerned about Twitter. It was the test-marketing of the attention economy.
This created Twitter celebs or influencers. Racism, sexism, casteism, genderism and almost all kinds of bigotry, misogyny, insults and politically incorrect expressions were freely flowing, disguised as jokes. Whoever questioned them was labelled ‘downmarket’.
This is when a celebrated, has-been journalist coined the label ‘Internet Hindoo’ for such ‘downmarket’ people. This wasn’t Hinduphobia. It was an elitist way of reminding Hindus that they were slaves.
I had not heard the term ‘Hinduphobic’ on Twitter till 2014. Instead of the Left or the Right wings, there was only the Who-Gets-More-Validation wing.
Shashi Tharoor was an undisputed star of Twitter as he could write well in English, flirt openly with famous lady journalists in India as well as in Pakistan. Since ‘Aman ki Asha’ was a favourite theme on Twitter, he was kind of their brand ambassador.
But all complex English comes with an expiry date. One day, some conscientious journalist reported his most infamous tweet where he disparagingly referred to ‘economy’ class as ‘cattle class’.
It became the first official political outrage where Sonia Gandhi had to intervene and he was forced to resign as a minister. This also marked the first instance of loss of power and destruction of credibility. By one tweet.
The media had tasted blood. They learnt two things: the power of Twitter in influencing domestic politics and that they could save money on grounds reporting by taking feed directly from Twitter.
Almost all media followed, including the regional media. Wherever the media goes, politicians follow. And vice versa.
Arvind Kejriwal used both very successfully to fulfil his political ambition in disguise of a social revolution against corruption.
The Congress became sceptic of Twitter as they had burnt their hands with Shashi Tharoor’s adventures with Twitter and saw Twitter a one of their opponents.
But social media visionary Narendra Modi, who was victimised by the media, saw it as a big opportunity. He understood that Twitter is nothing but a broadcaster of ideas. He used it to his advantage. Rest is history.
The platform not only empowered nationalistic leaders like Modi but also played a decisive role in Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s victory. These victories empowered ‘political slums’ -
the ‘silent majority’ of small town, vernacular, middle class people, especially the young.
To be able to directly speak to a Shah Rukh Khan or a Cabinet minister or your favourite journalist or even criticise, troll or abuse them in full public display is a powerful experience. With the ‘political slum’ questioning the ‘political skyscrapers’, elites of Twitter started getting rattled.
The accentuated ‘left-liberal’ world was now shown a mirror by the vernacular ‘right’. Thus began a war. A real war where people started losing their reputations, jobs, fame, status. And political power.
Twitter power became political currency.
On the Twitter of 2008, strangers used to become friends; but in today’s Twitter, friends are becoming enemies. In the pre-2014 world, there used to be tweet-ups, a social gathering of strangers who met on Twitter. I have been to many tweet-ups in many cities. Now even thinking about it is a nightmare.
A well-structured, systematic division was in place. The hunger for winning this war of words, insults, trolling and destruction of credibility, became the staple diet. Political narratives were dictated on Twitter. Everyone took their feed here. News channels started running debates on Twitter trends.
Today, there is no exchange of ideas, no dialogue, no appreciation. Only narratives. Political wars are won by narratives. Narratives are created by ecosystems. It’s a war of ecosystems. Twitter loves this war. History has revealed that Wars only help the powerful. In this case, the Big Tech. Let me explain.
In a globalised world, governments don’t create ecosystems. Ecosystems control governments. The United States is the best example. In a digital world, whoever controls the algorithm, controls power. Algorithms give them the power to influence minds, politics and policies. And hence, commerce.
In a globalised world, Big Tech is fighting for global control. This is evident in their vision for the future. At the World Economic Forum last year in Davos, Switzerland, the agenda was focussed on ‘The Big Reset’.
What is this ‘Big Reset’? It’s nothing but to give more control and power to globalisation against local, nationalistic interests who want to preserve and protect their national culture and economy from global invasion.
The Big Reset wants to reform capitalism because the current form of capitalism is broken as it’s not sustainable, it creates inequality and requires infinite growth with finite resources.
It is believed that the market and local governments cannot be trusted to behave in order to make this world a better place. If the world does not move towards global rights (as dictated by Big Tech) and global control of ‘useful’ ideas’, it will lead to a catastrophe. Therefore, the world should be controlled by uniform vision and policies, even at the cost of local concerns, aspirations and visions.
The Big Reset wants to control the way we think and behave, for a ‘larger good’. Which means it must be allowed to dictate policies of nations for the global good. Globalisation does not anymore mean the interconnected nature of the world economy, it simply means more centralised global thinking and decision-making.
We are moving towards a world where The Big Reset shareholders will control how a nation should grow food, distribute and consume it. How their resources should be used for global good. They want uniform consumer behaviour. For which consumers have to discard their current beliefs, tastes and choices.
A global reengineering project is in place. This is possible by creating doubt and stimulating fear and anger towards everything local with the help of algorithms controlled by Big Tech.
Twitter holds this power of influencing minds. Its algorithms are designed in such a way that they subvert all the goodness and greatness that exists in societies and trend any flaw to prove that the local system is rotten and must be torn down. (some references taken from @gummibear737)
Ideology, culture and consumer behaviour are also a matter of habit. The algorithms are created to change such habits and get more people to get addicted to their global agenda and, eventually, become true believers of their manifesto.
Anyone who doesn’t subscribe must be shadow banned or suspended. If you think this is a fantasy, please listen to a 3-hour, 25-minute-long with Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter, Vijaya Gadde, global lead for legal, policy, trust and safety at Twitter, along with an independent free-speech activist and independent journalist Tim Pool.
Here you can hear Jack confessing that Twitter is indeed tilted towards the ‘left-liberal’ ideology and Vijaya Gadde informing that they do not have any clear-cut mechanism of censoring posts. She says that only a few hundred people screen millions of reports for Twitter abuse every day: an impossible task.
According to her, to understand what is abusive in a local society, they hire a team of local experts. All these local experts are only from one spectrum of political ideology – the ‘left-liberals’. I won’t be surprised if these so-called ‘local experts’ are disguised as ‘fact checkers’ and free speech activists.
Free speech is being weaponised and used against the opponents of this Big Reset.
The current clash between the Government of India and Twitter is the manifestation of the same politics. For the GoI to ask social media platforms to is how things should be done in the age of cyber/info and a possible bio-warfare. It’s common sense.
But Twitter is trying to convert a legal issue into a political battle which is nothing but a reflection of the current political reality. The fight is about who is going to have more control.
Instead of compliance, Twitter is trying to use its algorithms to propagate this as an 'attack on free speech' and flag contrarian views as ‘manipulated media’. This strategy had worked successfully in influencing American presidential elections. Trump lost. Both the presidency as well as his Twitter account, forever.
Twitter thought that this would work in India too. Twitter assumes that by manipulating public outrage in their favour they can corner the Modi government which is firefighting its fast plummeting ratings amidst the COVID crisis.
Obviously, when Modi’s image is at its lowest, an attack on free speech narrative would sink it further.
But India is not the USA and Modi is not Trump. For India is not a believer of objective truth like the Christian world. India is a profounder of subjective reality.
This is manifested beautifully in a 70s classic movie Deewar. In this Amitabh Bachchan movie, written by the genius duo of Salim-Javed, Amitabh Bachchan, playing a smuggler asks his younger brother, Shashi Kapoor, a police inspector, “Who is listening to me – a brother or a police inspector”? To which Shashi Kapoor replies: “As long as a brother is speaking, a brother is listening. When a thief speaks, a police officer will listen.”
So far, the government of India used to behave like a forgiving elder brother. For the first time, by issuing a befitting public reply to Twitter’s falsehood, in the same Twitterati language, the Government of India has shown spine and has taken Twitter on. For a change, like the Deewar scene, it’s clear who is a cop and who a thief.
If you want to understand who is the thief here, please ponder upon why Twitter algorithms promoted Capitol Hill siege as an act of domestic terrorism, but when exactly the same kind of siege took place at the Red Fort on Republic Day, it was promoted as a 'democratic dissent'.
Every other opinion is flagged as manipulated media. Because the ‘manipulated media’ has the power to flag everything else as manipulated media which is not part of The Big Reset’.
Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is a national award winner filmmaker, bestselling author and a public intellectual.