It is not just big corporates and politicos that are using social media sites like Twitter to reach out to their base. The microblogging site has attracted a much more niche (albeit not unlikely) user too — escort services agencies.
An analysis of the site’s data throws up nearly 1,000 such active users. Of these, about 250 are in the Delhi NCR region and nearly 200 agencies are from Mumbai, while others are from cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Panaji and Lucknow.
Most of these profiles are labelled interestingly to lure potential customers. For instance, a Gurgaon based agency (@tishaescorts), which has 366 followers, says it provides “service to high-profile people and businessmen only”. Then there are those like Mumbai Model Escorts (@MumbaiModelesco).
The handle claims to offer “services” of high-profile ramp and TV models and Bollywood starlets in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune and Goa.
When this reporter contacted a Delhi-based agency for details posing as a customer, he was told he could have both Indian and Russian girls. “For 1-1½ hours, we charge Rs. 5,000 for Indian girls and Rs. 7,000 for Russian girls,” said the man on the phone. “I will send you the photographs on Whatsapp to select.”
Not everyone is amused though; some users feel that this should stop. “Solicitation in public places is a crime under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986,” says Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Centre for Internet and Society, “but until someone complains to Twitter, they will claim to have no ‘actual knowledge’ to prevent attracting liability under the IT Act.” Although Raheel Khursheed, head of news, politics and government, Twitter India, could not be found for a response, the terms of services on the site states that responsibility of the content rests solely on the user.
Delhi-based private detective agency, Aider Detectives Pvt Ltd, has done research on the subject and found that the agencies charge anywhere between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 2 lakh from their clients. “The only question they ask is about the details of services required,” says Sanjeev Deswal, chairman of Aider Detectives.