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Twitter Invested In A Social Network Accused Of Spreading Misinformation And Hate Speech

Earlier this year, ShareChat took steps to clean up the platform, including removing accounts and content that violate its community guidelines.

Posted on August 16, 2019, at 9:21 a.m. ET

Alastair Pike / AFP / Getty Images

Twitter invested in an Indian social platform that has previously been accused of not doing enough to curb the spread of hate speech and misinformation.

ShareChat, the platform that Twitter invested in, is used by more than 60 million people in India and is available in 15 languages. It works similarly to Twitter but is not available in English. ShareChat has been notorious for being a hotbed of misinformation and hate speech, and earlier this year took steps to clean up the platform, including removing accounts and content that violate its community guidelines.

Twitter was one of the two investors that led ShareChat's latest $100 million round of funding. Both companies declined to say how much of that money Twitter invested. According to an Economic Times report published in June, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was personally involved in the deal.

Unlike Twitter, which is primarily used by urban, English-speaking Indians, ShareChat users come from the country’s millions of small towns and villages, and post and consume content in more than a dozen regional languages. Over the last year, ShareChat has also become the platform of choice for India’s politicians to engage with the majority of the country’s citizens who do not speak English, in their own languages.

“Twitter and ShareChat are aligned on the broader purpose of serving the public conversation, helping the world learn faster and solve common challenges,” Manish Maheshwari, Twitter India’s managing director, said in a statement. “This investment will help ShareChat grow and provide the company’s management team access to Twitter’s executives as thought partners.”

ShareChat has been under fire for being a hotbed of malicious content and hate speech. Last year, a report in the Hindustan Times, one of India’s largest newspapers, showed that ShareChat was rife with fake news, misinformation, political and religious propaganda, and violent hate speech.

ShareChat executives have defended this content, saying that they “can’t take a call on what is hateful or not,” but since then, the company has taken a series of steps to clean up its platform. In April, shortly before India’s general elections, it removed nearly 500,000 pieces of content for violating its community guidelines. In January, it deleted 50,000 accounts for sharing pornographic, violent, and fake content on the platform. It also partnered with a third-party fact-checking service and hired a content moderation team.

A ShareChat spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that in addition to taking those steps, the company had worked to translate its community guidelines into all the languages the platform was available in and had reached out to India’s Election Commission, the body responsible for conducting elections in the country, to work with it to actively remove problematic content.

Twitter declined to comment on ShareChat’s misinformation and hate speech problem and asked BuzzFeed News to contact ShareChat.

ShareChat’s other investors include Chinese venture capital firms Trustbridge Partners, ShunWei Capital, and Morningside Venture Capital; Chinese electronics company Xiaomi; India-based SAIF Capital; and Lightspeed Venture Partners, based in Silicon Valley.



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