New York: After getting slammed for not complying with Indias new Digital Media Ethics Code which dramatically alters intermediary liability in the country and mandates the appointment of a chief compliance officer, Jack Dorsey’s Twitter is scrambling to hire a “staff designer” who can “locally tailor” its “global product” for India, besides aggressively pushing an open position based in Bengaluru, also the backyard of homegrown competitor Koo.
With this, Twitter India is stepping into the equation in the public domain after a series of recent blows, even as Twitter officials told an Indian newswire that they are hurrying and would close the loop on appointing a chief compliance officer “within a week” from June 7.
As on date, Twitter shows 19 open positions in India, with “Resident Grievance Officer” and “Chief Compliance Officer” popping up now at the top of that list. Both the positions don’t show the last date for applications on the landing page.
Meanwhile, Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari re-posted a job opening on his Twitter timeline on Thursday, saying “Design for India, design in India. Join TeamIndia. We are hiring”.
“Locally relevant”, “locally tailor” and “needs” of Indian customers are all over Twitter’s job description for a “Staff Designer – Global Participation, India”.
Twitter India did not respond to three specific questions on the timing of its “new approach” or the “gaps” in strategy that it highlights in its own ad.
The opening lines of the ad read, “India is one of Twitter’s key markets and will be one of the first countries in which we pilot this new approach of building an in-market team to locally tailor our global product to the needs of a specific region.”
The new hire is expected to “customise the Twitter experience to best meet the needs of our customers in India”.
The India-focus staff designer is expected to use a “deep understanding” of the “unique” ways people use Twitter in India to highlight “gaps” in Twitter’s product strategy.
Twitter is hoping to land on a designer who can cover “everything from engineering to business development and product marketing”.
“Very happy that a year-old startup could rattle a giant to start thinking of innovating locally,” said a Bengaluru based Twitter and Koo user.
Twitter’s open position push comes after a series of blows. On June 5, India dashed off a notice to billionaire Jack Dorsey’s Twitter, giving the microblogging platform one last chance to “immediately” comply with her new information technology rules which came into effect on May 26, 2021.
A furious Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) warned Twitter that failure to adhere to the norms will lead the platform to lose exemption from liability under the Information Technology Act.
Such loss of exemption will expose Team Dorsey, including Dorsey himself, to multiple headaches under the IT Act, 2000 as well as other penal provisions of the land. In the past, Dorsey had refused to present himself before a Parliamentary panel of 31 MPs citing short notice.
MeitY saw Team Dorsey’s refusal to comply with the rules demonstrating the microblogging site’s “lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform”.
The notice, however, did not give a specific deadline to comply with the rules. The Delhi High Court has already backed MeitY’s case.
Dorsey’s nonchalance before governments is well known. This was evident when the platform claimed to be a defender of free speech.
India returned the volley with indignation: “Protecting free speech in India is not the prerogative of only a private, for-profit, foreign entity like Twitter, but it is the commitment of the world’s largest democracy and its robust institutions. Twitter’s statement is an attempt to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy.
“Through its actions and deliberate defiance, Twitter seeks to undermine India’s legal system. Furthermore, Twitter refuses to comply with those very regulations in the Intermediary Guidelines on the basis of which it is claiming safe harbour protection from any criminal liability in India.”
With 68.8 million Twitter follows, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the second-highest number of follows among all political leaders on the planet after Barack Obama. The ‘NM’ handle is 12th highest followed on the platform overall and has more follows than even Twitter and 12x of Jack Dorsey’s. Dorsey was granted a coveted meeting with Modi during a drop-by to Delhi in November 2018.
As political risk escalates around media regulation, and Twitter finds itself on the wrong side of government(s), Koo has found a new perch in Africa. The Nigerian government on June 10 created its account on Koo days after banning Twitter.
As per Statista, India has upwards of 17.5 million Twitter users (January data). This makes it the third biggest market for Jack Dorsey in the world after the US and Japan. Koo reported more than 6.5 million downloads, as of last week.
By Nikhila Natarajan