Silicon Valley Thought India Was Its Future. Now Everything Has Changed. | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Silicon Valley Thought India Was Its Future. Now Everything Has Changed.

On June 3, Google had to apologize to the Indian state of Karnataka for search results that prominently listed the state’s primary tongue, Kannada, as the “ugliest language in India.” As the search engine moved to fix the issue, the state’s minister for forest, Kannada, and culture, Arvind Limbavali, threatened legal action. Later that very week, Limbavali demanded that Amazon’s Canada outpost apologize after it listed a bikini for sale that featured Karnataka’s flag. When Amazon did not respond, Limbavali stated he’d take legal action against the e-commerce platform as well.

These incidents occurred at a terrible time for Google and Amazon. Throughout this year, India’s ultraconservative government has consistently threatened major Big Tech at a level it hadn’t dared before.

On Feb. 1, in response to massive farmers protests as well as a Republic Day anti-government and anti-police rally that had turned violent, the administration asked Twitter to remove 1,100 accounts and posts it claimed were spreading misinformation. Twitter initially resisted, only obscuring some accounts from view—until its India-based employees were threatened with prison time. After that, it permanently banned more than 500 accounts and obscured others from Indians’ view. Shortly after, the government took matters into its own hands and shut down internet access in areas where protesting farmers were gathering.