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Twitter’s India policy head resigns, firm says ‘no link to govt warning’ over unblocking users

Twitter India, which received notice last week for unblocking accounts govt had requested to block, says policy head Mahima Kaul had decided to step down earlier this year.

Mahima Kaul, Twitter India public Policy head | Twitter
Mahima Kaul, Twitter India public Policy head | Twitter

New Delhi: Twitter India’s public policy head Mahima Kaul has put in her papers, citing personal reasons. This the second such resignation within a year — Facebook’s Ankhi Das quit as the social media giant’s India policy head in October 2020.

A source in Twitter said Kaul’s resignation is “not related to the reported government warning” that came last week after the microblogging site unblocked accounts the government had requested it to block over posts related to farmer protests.

In its statement, Twitter said Kaul would continue in her role until the end of March.

“At the start of this year, Mahima Kaul decided to step down from her role as Twitter Public Policy Director for India and South Asia to take a well-deserved break,” Monique Meche, vice-president, public policy, Twitter, said in the statement.

“It’s a loss for all of us at Twitter, but after more than five years in the role we respect her desire to focus on the most important people and relationships in her personal life. Mahima will continue in her role till the end of March and will support the transition.”

The source said Kaul had decided to resign before the government warning was issued.

Job listings for the position show Twitter has been seeking applications since last month. This job listing for ‘Public Policy Director – India’ is dated 10 days ago.

Ankhi Das had stepped down last year after Facebook drew heat for allegedly turning a blind eye to hate speech by BJP leaders on its platform to protect its business interests in the country.

Also read: Not just Rihanna — farmer protests drew support from global stars Lilly Singh, Hasan Minhaj too

Twitter withholds accounts posting on farmer protests

On 1 February, Twitter withheld several Indian user accounts, including that of Prasar Bharati CEO, based on a government request. The accounts had been using the hashtag ‘ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide’ while posting on Twitter.

The move triggered backlash for the company with many noting how Twitter withheld the accounts without giving any clear information on why it was done or who exactly from the government made the request.

Twitter then unilaterally decided to lift the block after several hours.

Sanjukta Basu, whose account was among those withheld, said the block lasted from around 2pm to 7pm.

According to a report by Reuters, Twitter had lifted the block since it had “‘insufficient justification’ to continue the suspensions”.

This led to the government issuing Twitter with a notice on 3 February, warning it of penal action for not complying with the request.

Also read: Didn’t pay Rihanna, Greta Thunberg or others to tweet on farm protests — Canada firm PJF