If Not Many Indians Are on Twitter, Why Are They on Facebook?

There are little over 12 million Indian users on Twitter whereas there are 43.49 million Facebook users from India. When it comes to Facebook population, Indian users are in the second position just behind the US. In Twitter rankings, though India stands sixth behind Indonesia. What are the non-obvious reasons for this glaring difference between Twitter and Facebook usage? PandoDaily, the new TechCrunch offshoot, has some answers.

Here are Sarah Lacy’s reasons : Size, English, Democracy and Middle Class. As for Size, it’s the usual grunt of how many people live under poverty and how many on less than one dollar per day. English – It’s not universally spoken (I though we were talking about India). Democracy – Oh! it’s a dysfunctional one. Middle Class – the rich vs. poor divide hogwash again!

Before I get to what’s wrong with Sarah’s comments about Twitter in India, let me narrate a story.

There was this parable in India about a teacher asking his students to write an essay about a cow. An enthusiastic student wrote all the things about a cow. The teacher was impressed. The next day, the teacher asked to write a story about a village. The same student started with, “There’s is a village named Rampur. It has lot of cows….” and the rest of the story was all about the cow. It went on for almost all the stories the student wrote.

No matter what the topic was, the student always makes the story about the cow. How’s this relevant to the topic at hand? Writing anything about India always revolves around few points. When I say always, I mean always. It always boils down to India’s dysfunctional democracy, India’s enormous size which is also poor, its poverty, its squalor and of course the traffic jams. That’s the theme. It sounds like more than one theme but that’s THE theme.

Is it All About the Cow?

PandoDaily has taken the same old extrapolation to Twitter. What Sarah offers isn’t nothing new nor is it a fresh perspective. It’s another essay about a Village which ends being an essay abouta cow. Of course, the post misses a mention about cows on the road, which is a favorite cliché of many foreign writers.

The time has come for people to move beyond “India’s shining but it’s poor” theme and find some real perspectives about India. If you are an occasional writer about India, then it’s all the more reason to find a fresh perspective.

Here’s my question to Sarah :

If more Indians aren’t using Twitter because of India’s dysfunctional democracy, high poverty and poor English skills, why are there more Indians on Facebook? After all, both Twitter and Facebook work the same way.

Since the question is already up, let’s see if we can answer this. Twitter has a limit of 140 characters and to many that’s not much to have a meaningful conversation. The 140 character limit is limiting. Facebook offers a more complete experience with the ability to look at videos, pictures and longer text. For many who now think Facebook is the Internet, Facebook is what they are looking for.

Twitter, unfortunately, doesn’t appeal to as many — at least in certain communities — because there’s no real meat in it. It’s text, text, and more text with short URLs. It’s not just in India; it’s the same reason why Facebook has more subscribers than Twitter.

Ironically there were 229 Tweets about the Pandodaily post and there were 33 Likes. Why is that Sarah? Maybe another cliché post would help.