As India embarks on the biggest democratic exercise next year, Twitter is gearing up for the mega event, undertaking a number of initiatives to curb fake news and prevent trolling. 

Twitter reported revenues of $655 million and 336 million monthly active users in its first quarter, with earnings beating analyst estimates globally. Video contributed about 50% to its overall revenues. 

Taranjeet Singh, country director of Twitter India, said sectors like auto, banking and financial services and technology primarily pushed advertising growth for the platform locally. In an interview with Anumeha Chaturvedi, Singh discusses, among other things, steps the social media platform is taking to ensure authenticity in the run-up to the general elections. 

Edited excerpts: 

On credible news and authenticity… 

With India being the largest democracy in the world, there will be a lot of conversations around the general elections. We are partnering with law enforcement agencies and regulators on reporting and taking down fake news. We are verifying and building capacities of political candidates so that there are verified accounts and users know who the right people are to follow or hear from. We are partnering with credible news outlets and media companies for coverage and livestreams. 

Our news partners are really important for us as they bring in credibility and their own point of view in terms of coverage. We have created emojis which will fuel more conversations. 

Around the Karnataka elections, we saw almost 5 million tweets. 

On the fight against malicious accounts… 
(We are fighting), especially those that do automation and try to push out content and game the system. We are committed to keeping people informed. We deeply care about misinformation. 

On operating parameters…
Our users are growing globally. On the GAAP revenue, we are profitable. India continues to be one of the fastest growing markets. We see great traction here in terms of user engagement. More and more brands are working with us. We are investing here for further growth. Video has been the fastest growing ad product. Our focus in India is to bring more and more live and great content on video on the platform. 

We are improving on measurements for brand advertisers. Our costs per engagement are down, meaning that advertisers are making more impact on the money they spend on advertising. 

The San Francisco-based platform had been in the news following developments like a bug exposing passwords of its users in plain text. Is user data secure? 
In 2015, GSR had API access for just one day on Twitter. They had information on public data and didn’t have any private information. This is an important distinction from the way CA had used other platforms. In the last 16 months, Twitter has made 30 different changes in product policies and operations to make the platform safer — whether it was making affiliation with the violent extremist groups against the platform’s terms of service, making hateful imagery harder to find by labelling it as sensitive content and banning it from profiles, and communicating our rules more clearly to users and reviewing abuse reports by third party witnesses. 

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