In an unusual and unique year, the need to connect was heightened by physical distancing, says Twitter MD
The tweet from actor Vijay of a selfie with fans posted in February was the most retweeted tweet of 2020, while cricketer Virat Kohli’s tweet announcing that his actor wife Anushka Sharma and he are expecting their first baby was the most liked tweet of the year, according to trends released by Twitter.
“This year has been quite unusual and unique. One of the major things we witnessed was the need to connect because we were physically distanced. Digital has become the most important way for people to express connection…rejoicing in celebratory moments, standing up for those communities impacted by the pandemic, bonding over rediscovered shows, interests and memes,” Manish Maheshwari, managing director, Twitter India, said.
In politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet on lighting lamps at residence was the most retweeted tweet, while in sports former Indian cricket captain M. S. Dhoni’s tweet expressing gratitude for a letter of appreciation by Mr. Modi was the most retweeted.
IPL2020 and Dil Bechara were the top sports and movie hashtags, while ‘Binod’ became the most tweeted about meme during the year.
Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 topped the list of topics in current affairs that Indians had most conversations about. This was followed by late actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the Hathras murder and alleged gang-rape.
“In India, this year we played a very important role in three categories — informing, connecting and entertaining. Twitter became the service through which people got to know about how things are evolving, and COVID-19 became the most used hashtag on the service. Within COVID-19, there were a range of hashtags around janta curfew, wearing masks etc.,” Mr. Maheshwari said.
He added that Twitter looked at about a million tweets from 22 cities over 100 days to understand what were the “top feelings” that people were talking about last year and compared that to this year. “What emerged was that people find joy in every day things… Ludhiana as a city topped the conversation in the area of romance. The other one is Raipur — people there talk a lot about animals. In Bhubaneshwar conversations were [on] family and Mumbai topped the conversation on nostalgia.”
Mr Maheshwari said that there was also a rise in conversations and tweets on various interests and hobbies, such as baking, photography, yoga, fitness and poetry.
“Globally, we have about 7,000 tweets per minute about TV and movies this year. In India also we see interesting trends. The Hindi movie Dil Bechara was the most tweeted about film to release this year, but immediately after that we had a Tamil film Soorarai Pottru and Telugu movie Sarileru Neekevvaru,” he pointed out.
Asked about the regulation of offensive content and misinformation on Twitter, Mr. Maheshwari said that the “health of the conversations on the platform” was among the most important priorities and the company was investing in this area.
“We keep evolving our policies in response to what we observe on our platform. We learn about new ways in which bad actors do bad activities on the service and, in response to that, we continue to evolve our policies. Our approach there has been how do we provide more credible sources of information,” he said, adding that the company was also investing in its enforcement team to ensure the right enforcement of the policies.
“We have a global team for that and are adding capacity there. We are also ensuring that they have the right cultural context to understand something in the context of the country that they are enforcing in. They have the relevant language capabilities as well and that is also very important,” he said.
He added that the company had invested in technology, and now “more than 50% of the tweets that are actioned on” are proactively identified by the platform.