Rahul Gandhi writes to Twitter CEO on sharp drop in number of followers
“I have been reliably, albeit discreetly, informed by people at Twitter India that they are under immense pressure by the government to silence my voice”, Mr. Gandhi mentioned in the letter
New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi dashed off a letter to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal stating that Twitter has been unwittingly complicit in curbing free and fair speech in India.
He urged Mr. Agrawal that Twitter has enormous responsibility not to encourage the growth of authoritarianism in India, Mr. Gandhi stated and he alleged that the government campaign to suppress his reach on the platform.
In the letter, Mr. Gandhi stated that, “ It is perplexing that the growth in my Twitter followers has suddenly been suppressed. With nearly 20 million followers, my Twitter account has been very active, adding an average of eight to ten thousand new followers every day. For example, in May 2021, my account gained roughly 640.000 new followers. This had been the case for several years until July 2021”.
“ Then something strange happened. Since August 2021, the average number of my new monthly Twitter followers has fallen to nearly zero. There is an inflection point after which my Twitter account seems to have been paralysed”, Rahul Gandhi said in the letter.
Further, he pointed out that “perhaps not coincidently, it was precisely during these months that I raised the plight of a rape victim’s family in Delhi, stood in solidarity with farmers and fought the government on many other human rights issues. In fact, a video of mine that promised farmers that the 3 infamous farm laws will be repealed is among the most-watched video on Twitter posted by any political leader in India in recent time”, he mentioned.
“I have been reliably, albeit discreetly, informed by people at Twitter India that they are under immense pressure by the government to silence my voice. My account was even blocked for few days for no legitimate reason. There were many other Twitter handles, including Government once, which had tweeted similar photos of the same people. None of those accounts were blocked. My account was singularly targeted”, he stated in the letter.
In a letter dated December 27 that included an analysis of data from his Twitter account as well as comparisons with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, Mr Gandhi said that while he added an average of about 4 lakh followers for the first seven months of 2021, the growth came to an abrupt halt for several months following an eight-day suspension in August last year.
"I am writing to you on behalf of more than a billion Indians to not allow Twitter to become a pawn in the destruction of the idea of India," Mr Gandhi said.
“As a leader of India’s largest opposition party, it is my duty to raise my voice on behalf of our people against injustice. As you may be aware, there is an ongoing assault on India’s institutional framework and complete capture of traditional mainstream media. This has been written about and discussed extensively both in India and abroad”, Mr. Gandhi noted in the letter.
A Twitter spokesperson quoted by news agency ANI said the follower counts are "meaningful" and "accurate". "Twitter has a zero-tolerance approach to platform manipulation and spam.