New Twitter chief trolled over old tweet

India born Parag Agrawal is the new CEO of Twitter and the virtual world has been celebrating yet another Indian leading a tech giant after the likes of Mr Satya Nadella and Mr Sundar Pichai.

But an old tweet by Mr Agrawal also went viral soon after with conservatives expressing their displeasure over the new development.

In 2010, when he was not a Twitter employee, Mr Agrawal posted: "If they are not gonna make a distinction between muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists."

On Monday, soon after Mr Agrawal was appointed the new Twitter CEO, different users began interpreting the 11-year-old tweet in their own ways.

One user felt that the tweet makes Mr Agrawal a racist. "So, Twitter's new CEO is a racist. Why am I not surprised?" he wrote.

Another user tweeted: "New Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal makes (Jack) Dorsey (the man he replaced) look like a moderate. Agrawal is left of Lenin. We're all on borrowed time."

American Ken Buck, a Republican who represents Colorado's fourth Congressional district, questioned how users can trust the new CEO of Twitter to treat everyone equally given his views.

United States Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee chipped in: "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."

Mr Agrawal did not respond to the comments. But his 11-year-old tweet was soon all over social media with people in India and the US commenting about it.

Later, several news publications reported that Mr Agrawal clarified to a user shortly after posting the tweet that he was quoting comedian Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show.

"I am amused by people that pass judgement on people for passing judgement. I was attempting to do the same to amuse myself," he had said in a subsequent tweet.

Other users have since defended Mr Agrawal, including CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski. He posted the original clip of Mandvi's interview which shows the comedian indeed made those remarks.

"This tweet which is currently going viral among the right from Twitter's new CEO is him quoting a Daily Show segment that aired that night about stereotypes, tweeted Kaczynski.

"It's a joke about absurd stereotypes, not a factual statement."

Despite the social media debate, Mr Agrawal's appointment generated extreme excitement in India, particularly in Mumbai and his alma mater Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), where he studied between 2001-2005 and graduated in BTech from the department of computer science and Engineering.

The institute's director Subhasis Chaudhari said: "The education and ambience that IIT-B provided to Agrawal, not too long ago, helped in bringing out the best in him. Building on top of it with hard work and dedication, he has reached the top. Our congratulations to him."

Prof Supratim Biswas, who taught him a couple of subjects at IIT-B, recalled that Mr Agrawal was topper of the course in 2005.

"He was extremely well-organised, very bright, well-behaved and focused in life. He was the typical topper-type material and had all the qualities of an achiever," Prof Biswas said.

Born in Ajmer, Rajasthan, to a Department of Atomic Energy officer and a school teacher, Mr Agrawal studied at the Atomic Energy Central School No. 4 at Anushakti Nagar in north-east Mumbai where his schoolmate was popular Bollywood singer Shreya Ghoshal.

After graduating from IIT-B, Mr Agrawal went to the United States where he obtained his doctorate in computer science from Stanford University in 2011.

Mr Agrawal joined Twitter in October 2011 as a software engineer and six years later was appointed the chief technology officer.

At Twitter, Mr Agrawal was responsible for its technical strategy, overseeing machine learning and AI across the consumer, revenue and science teams.

He has led efforts on scaling Twitter Ads system and re-accelerating user growth by improving home timeline relevance.

Mr Agrawal, who is married to Ms Vineeta, a general partner with California-based venture capital company Andreessen Horowitz, and has a son with her, has a unique mantra for success: "The whole can be much greater than the sum of parts."

Indo-Asain News Service

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