- Twitterati also floods the social media site with “Agarwal ji ka beta” memes as well as some hilarious desi requests to the new ‘bhaiyya and bhabhi’ to fix bugs and glitches.
At 37, Indian American Parag Agrawal, who became the CEO of Twitter after Jack Dorsey stepped down on Nov. 29, is one of the youngest to helm a giant global corporation. Expectedly, his appointment set social media on fire with congratulatory messages and expressions of pride in how people of Indian origin were now leading some of the largest tech companies in the world. Twitter was inundated with photos and mentions of Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Google’s Sunder Pichai and IBM’s Shantanu Narayen, among others. Some quipped about India’s brain drain, while others pointed out the opportunity U.S. offers its immigrants.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, lauded the contributions of Indian Americans. “USA benefits greatly from Indian talent!” Musk said in response to a Tweet from Stripe CEO Patrick Collison on the success of Indians in the technology sector and the opportunity that America offers to immigrants.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in a tweet, wished Dorsey for his future endeavors and congratulated Agrawal.
BJP minister Hiren Mistry also took to Twitter to congratulate Agrawal. “#ParagAgrawal from IIT Bombay to take over from Jack Dorsey as #Twitter’s CEO. Feels great to see our Desi Minds shining bright globally. Every Indian is proud of his accomplishment. Many congratulations.”
Although there’s zero possibility that Agrawal would reinstate Trump’s Twitter account, Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, who was permanently booted from the social media site in May this year, is hopeful. She took to her Instagram to share her reaction to Dorsey’s exit. “Bye chacha Jack,” she wrote. Actor Anupam Kher also welcomed Agrawal on Twitter. He tweeted in Hindi, “It’s our Hindustani brother, Parag Agarwal becoming the new CEO of Twitter! anything can happen.”
However, a few hours after the news broke, Agrawal began facing ire from American conservatives who raised questions about his political beliefs and wondered if he was fit to lead the company. They criticized a decade-old tweet posted by Agrawal before he joined Twitter, in which he had quoted comedian Asif Mandvi mocking racism and islamophobia. “If they are not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists,” Agrawal had tweeted within quotes in October 2010. A few minutes later he had clarified that he was quoting Mandvi from the “Daily Show.”
Jason Miller, the former senior advisor to President Donald J Trump, questioned Agrawal’s stance on censorship in a tweet and whether political discrimination is coming to Twitter.
Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also attacked him, saying, “This is Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s new CEO and the person who’s going to be deciding what kind of speech is allowed on Twitter.”
Other Republicans including Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) also chimed in. “How can users trust him to treat everyone equally,” Rep. Buck asked in a tweet, replying to Agrawal’s tweet quoting Mandavi.
In a now-deleted tweet, Rep. Davidson proposed that “the company’s white staff might all quit over the quote,” reported the American Independent. “Wow! Who knew corporate wokeness would tolerate open bigotry. I’m pretty sure Twitter has white employees, white customers, and white suppliers — for now at least.”
Similarly, GOP Ohio Senate hopeful J.D. Vance mocked Agrawal for having “some…interesting views.”
Meanwhile, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski posted the original video from “The Daily Show.” In the clip, Mandvi is seen wearing a “Team Muslim” shirt. “If they’re not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and violent extremists, then why should I take the time to distinguish between decent, fearful white people and racists,” he says.
Mandvi also chimed in. “Thankfully this tweet is no longer relevant,” he tweeted.
Many on the right also referred to a comment Agrawal made during an interview with the MIT Technology Review in 2020. Agrawal told MIT Technology Review at the time that Twitter’s role was not bound by the First Amendment and that the platform’s role was to serve healthy public conversations. He added that Twitter’s moves were reflective of things that the company believed would lead to a healthier conversation. Agrawal was asked about combating misinformation while trying to protect free speech as a core value.
Michigan-based James Todaro, a partner at Greymatter Capital warned that censorship at Twitter will get worse under Agrawal.
In a separate tweet, Todaro mentioned how, “within the first 24 hours of being CEO,” Agrawal “already banned” any images or videos that include private individuals without their consent. “Does this basically eliminate any videos/images of current events,” he asked.
Andy Ngo, an American conservative journalist, dug out a tweet from Agarwal’s timeline in 2017 showing that he had supported the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who sued former American President Donald Trump, by donating to them. “More evidence of the incoming Twitter CEO’s political bias. Parag Agrawal donated to the ACLU so it could sue the former president,” Ngo tweeted, with screenshots of exchange on the microblogging platform between Agarwal and venture capitalist Chris Sacca.
Similarly, JD Rucker of California had a word of caution for the conservatives celebrating Jack Dorsey stepping down from Twitter. “His replacement, Parag Agrawal, is a far-left extremist who embraces Critical Race Theory and has aggressively spoken against the 1st Amendment. This is not a time to celebrate.
“Unless you’re a woke Indian there’s no point celebrating #ParagAgrawal as twitter CEO,” tweeted a user named Skin Doctor. “Needless to say he’s a woke and will be harsher than Jack on free speech to justify his elevation. Brown sepoy syndrome. Kya ‘Garv hai Bhartiye mool ke Parag bane CEO’ laga rakha hai?”
Activist, author and Voice for India founder Renee Lynn had similar advice. “If you think Twitter is going to change now that Jack Dorsey has been replaced by Parag Agrawal, you are kidding yourself. Parag is a Leftist Liberal on Steroids.”
Some other tweets from Agrawal began to surface, notably on cricket and his friendship with singer Shreya Ghoshal. There are other random tweets, like one on April 29, 2011, where Agrawal tweeted: “I am at the Twitter office.” Twitter exchanges between Agrawal and Ghoshal prompted one user to call it the “new Tinder.”
Users tweeted referring to Agrawal’s caste as well, with several using hailing his modest background and him being a Baniya. “Apparently, a dalit activist is calling parag agrawal a brahmin,” tweeted Texas-based geneticist Rabiz Khan. “Is this like when nonwhite ppl with bad politics are still called white? what’s going on here?”
“There is no caste in urban India and amongst the educated lot,” tweeted Sandeep Azad, replying to Khan.
Some shared photos of Twitter’s new logo, while others like Bhaavna Arora noted that under Agrawal, “Twitter will learn cost cutting.”
Social media was replete with “Agarwal ji ka beta” memes as well as some hilarious desi requests to the new CEO bhai to fix bugs and glitches. “Agrawal ji ka beta once again is gonna be a taunt weapon for desi parents.”
Some suggested that Twitter reprieve “every account suspended over misunderstood ‘offences’ like DMCA violations and such.” A user named Chandra R. Srikanth tweeted: “pls introduce an edit button. I spelt your name as agarwal.
And it wasn’t just Agarwal, some on Twitter posted on his wife Vineeta’s account, and sent her the similar requests. “Bhabhi please parag bhaiya ko bolke mera @bluetiick restore karwa do. Meri taraf se deshi ghee ke bhature.”