After a nearly two-month feud between top Twitter executives and the world’s richest man Elon Musk, the latter finally backed away from acquiring Twitter on Friday. While the battle royale put the company through tough times, most experts believe that this will be good overall for the microblogging site’s India operations.
On Friday, Musk announced that he will abandon his tumultuous $44-billion offer to buy Twitter after the company failed to provide enough information about the number of fake accounts. Twitter immediately fired back, saying it would sue the Tesla CEO to uphold the deal.
Many had welcomed the Tesla CEO’s move to acquire Twitter as they believed that Musk would inspire the company to innovate after years of product stagnation, diversify revenue streams, build a bigger audience and even potentially relax content moderation rules for the platform. Musk’s decision to not go through with the deal could potentially cause Twitter’s business to deteriorate, given the uncertainty, which has in fact motivated top Twitter executives to sue Musk to uphold his end of the bargain.
A potential loss on product development front
Experts remain divided regarding what this could mean for Twitter’s India operations. On the one hand, a senior industry expert told BusinessLine that given that Twitter does not enjoy the same popularity as other social media platforms in India, Musk’s commitment to product development, would have done the company good when it came to acquiring users in India as well.
However, Musk’s stance on free speech might have created further conflict with the Centre’s content moderation policies. Twitter has often been at loggerheads with the Indian Government for failing to adhere with its internet rules.
Last year, amidst much tension, Twitter finally appointed a grievance redressal officer in India and submitted its transparency report, after the Indian Government threatened to withdraw its immunity as a social media intermediary.
Last month as well, the Centre granted Twitter “one last opportunity” to comply with the new IT rules by July 4, or risk losing its immunity as an intermediary. Consequently, Twitter has challenged the Indian government’s takedown notices in the Karnataka High Court this month.
One of the key motivations for Elon Musk to acquire Twitter was to relax the microblogging site’s content moderation rules and ensure absolute standards of free speech. This would have not boded well for the company’s India operations.
Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst, Founder and CEO of Greyhound Research, said, “Musk backing out of the Twitter deal will do overall good for Twitter India operations. While Elon Musk would have clearly bought a certain amount of operational discipline and emphasised the importance to innovate as a company. Musk’s anti-establishment stance would have been to the detriment of Twitter’s India operations.”
Gogia added, “Musk envisaged free speech, which is always against Twitter’s more pragmatic stance on the same. Twitter has always been at loggerheads with the Indian government on this issue. Musk’s decisive stance on free speech would not have been appreciated by marketeers or Twitter India’s brand in this case.”