Now that Nigeria has shown that it is not afraid to ban Twitter, some worry that India will be next if the conflict between New Delhi and the company cannot be resolved.
“You may see more calls to ban Twitter in India, if it continues to challenge the government,” Pahwa told CNN Business.
The Silicon Valley-based company’s response to political pressure in these countries it will decide its trajectory in fast-growing economies that are fundamental to any strategy of global expansion. Successfully navigating the tensions could give other U.S. technology companies a roadmap for dealing with governments with increasingly authoritarian tendencies.
Months of tension have caused Twitter problems in both Nigeria and India.
Tensions rose this month when Twitter deleted Buhari’s post for violating his policies of abusive behavior.
“Nigeria’s ban will certainly make many other emerging economies think about how they can also get the attention of platforms,” Gbenga Sesan, executive director of Paradigm Initiative, which works on digital inclusion and human rights, told CNN Business. Africa. He added that if Twitter meets Nigeria’s new registration requirements, “then these countries could try the same approach to get tax revenue.”
Threats to free speech in India
Twitter has said it has concerns about the “basics of the new IT rules” and the “potential threat to free speech” in the country. But the Modi government says the company is trying to “undermine India’s legal system” by its “deliberate challenge” to the rules.
“Twitter must stop beating and respect the laws of the country,” the government said in a statement in May. “Law-making and policy-making are the sole prerogative of the sovereign and Twitter is just a social media platform and has no [place] in dictating what … should be the framework of India’s legal policy. “
For many in India, the debate over the use of social media in the country is not so much about freedom of speech, but rather about a foreign company challenging the strength of the Indian government, Pahwa told CNN Business. He added that the the ban in Nigeria “adds more fuel to this fire.”
Hire locally, grow locally
In order to survive and thrive in these emerging economies, companies like Twitter may need to invest more in local equipment and understand local laws, experts said.
And it is possible that government pressure is already weakening Twitter’s resolution.
After signaling its reservations about the new social media rules last month, the company has said it remains “deeply committed” to India, which is among its largest markets in the world.
“We have assured the Government of India that Twitter is making every possible effort to comply with the new guidelines and that an overview of 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 Delhi-based technology policy consulting firm Koan Advisory Group, the shutdown in Nigeria and the debate in India could be a “wake-up call” for Western networking companies. to “increase local capacity to moderate content and transmit decision-making to country offices”.
“This is, of course, a high demand for new-age companies that are accustomed to global presence and scale, with no major investments in the field,” he said.
“Most social networks spend most of their bandwidth operating in developed markets. This paradigm is unsustainable and is now beginning to change.” added. “Companies that do not duplicate 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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