COSMO EXCLUSIVE: Mahima Kaul on What it's Like to be Twitter India's Public Policy Head

"Twitter is one of the most visible battlegrounds for free speech; but it definitely makes my job very interesting"

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Cosmo: So, what does being Public Policy Head of Twitter entail?

Mahima Kaul: "Well, there's three parts to what I do. The first is monitoring and participating in Internet policy debates with the government of India. The second is to talk to our users about Twitter's own policies, rules and tools—that way, they have total clarity. Lastly, I work with NGOs and charities under #TwitterForGood."

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C: And what's a girl got to do to get this job?

MK: "You could take a public policy course—there are lots of those these days. I studied Political Science in college, and then I did Communication Policy at graduate school. After that, I was a journalist for a while, and then was in academia. But lots of my colleagues are lawyers, or worked at policy oriented NGOs. So, there are many routes to my kind of job."

C: What does a day in your work life look like?

MK: "No two days are exactly the same—that's what I love about my job. Some days, I have back-to-back meetings with policy groups, safety experts, NGOs, government officials. Other days, I'm writing e-mails, reports, and catching up on reading. Since our teams are spread across the globe, we also schedule a lot of video calls—often from home—so my inquisitive dog inadvertently pops up on the screen as I talk to my colleagues!

C: What's the most interesting aspect of your job?

MK: "I'd say understanding the Indian market—it's fascinating. Only a neutral platform like Twitter can unearth so much about its users—what they like to Tweet about, what accounts are popular, what's trending, what they're fighting about... You get a real insight into the people of India."

C: What kind of external pressure (from outside Twitter) do you find yourself dealing with?

MK: "When people violate Twitter's rules, the company has to take quick, strict action to remove them—think terror-related content, child exploitation, impersonation...the list goes on. Twitter is one of the most visible battlegrounds for free speech; but it definitely makes my job very interesting."

C: So who do you follow on Twitter?

MK: "Oh, the usual suspects, the big news agencies, politicians, some celebrities—but I also follow a lot of academics, random witty accounts, even fictional characters! Parody, done right, brings out the genius in some people...in 140 characters!"

C: Lastly, what would be your advice to someone who wants to do what you do?

MK: "Follow the news religiously so you can connect the dots between the needs of civil society, businesses and governments. Internet law is still being hotly debated, so keep your ears and mind open." 

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