Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Is In India, And Reactions Have Been Both Welcoming And Hostile

The visit of the CEO of a global tech giant to India is usually a cause for celebration — when Apple CEO Tim Cook had visited India, he’d met with everyone from cricketers and Bollywood celebrities, and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had visited IIT Bombay and then rubbed shoulders with Sachin Tendulkar. But the reaction to the visit of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey been a lot more mixed.

Dorsey announced last night (on Twitter, of course), that he was in India, and checked in from New Delhi. He added that it was his first time in the country, after having wanted to “experience” it for a lifetime.

There were lots of welcoming messages, some from prominent Indian entrepreneurs.

And given how it was Twitter, there was some gentle ribbing too.

But there’s a section of Twitter that hasn’t been particularly welcoming. Just this month, it had emerged that Mahima Kaul, Director of Policy at Twitter India, had tweeted disparagingly about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2010, claiming that “bombs and deaths” were second to Modi’s ambition, and urged the Indian media to “get out of Modi’s ass.” At the same time, she’s gushed about Rahul Gandhi, once saying it was nice to have a good looking politician on TV, and said that young people she talked to thought Rahul Gandhi was their hero. She’d also tweeted that election victories of the Congress were “comforting.”

 

It’s not unusual for people to tweet about politics on Twitter — much of the conversation on the platform centers around politics. But the tweets, which Kaul deleted when they were unearthed, brought sharp focus on Twitter’s alleged political bias. In the west, Twitter has shut down several right-wing accounts for flimsy reasons, including the accounts of journalist-provacateur Milo Yiannopolous and entrepreneur Martin Shkreli. In India, right-leaning people are similarly aggrieved, feeling that several right-wing accounts have been suspended without proper justification.

Dorsey, thus, faced a barrage of criticism on his initial “Hello India” tweet.

 

Jack Dorsey, for his part, seems to be keeping with his schedule, and is doing the usual touristy things. Dorsey is known to be interested in Indian culture, having completed a 10-day Vipassana silent meditation in January, and he began his trip by meeting the Dalai Lama. He also seems to have clicked a picture of a rangoli of the Twitter logo, and is now in Jaipur. It sounds like a fairly standard trip for a first-time American visitor to India, but Dorsey will realize that just like at home, he will find it hard to avoid allegations of political bias on the platform that he runs.

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