Indian edtech startup withdraws defamation case
May 11, 2021
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by Arabella Seebaluck

India’s edtech start-up WhiteHat Jr, from the same parent company as Byju’s – the learning app, has withdrawn its defamation suit worth $3 million against an Indian engineer Pradeep Poonia who is a vocal critic of the company.

Pradeep Poonia called it a ‘win for the common man’ in a social media post which reads 

‘Guys, WE WON!
WhiteHatJr withdrew their case before Delhi High Court.
This is a win for every one of us. Corporates like WhiteHat Jr and BYJU’S, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, and YouTube aren’t above our freedom of expression.
This is a win for every common man…I hope I was able to break the myth that corporations rule our lives, they don’t, they CAN’T.
Now they can explain why they filed and withdrew the case.’

WhiteHat Jr has confirmed its case withdrawal to multiple news outlets in India.

What happened

WhiteHat Jr is owned by India’s biggest online learning platform, Byju’s. Byju’s is the most valuable edtech startup in the world. In November 2020, the company filed a defamation case against Pradeep Poonia in Delhi High Court after Poonia tweeted at the company for misleading people with false advertising and using unqualified teachers.

The company had blamed Poonia for trying to spread false information about the company and of copyright infringement.  Poonia used to tweet against the company using a handle name ‘WhiteHat Sr’ a pun directed at the company’s name. He also had a YouTube channel with the same username. 

Puneet Poonia had publicly criticised the company’s marketing strategies and the quality of their online education material.  Poonia also posted recordings of some classes by WhiteHat Jr and questioned the teachers on their eligibility. He also shared internal posts of a Slack channel of the company. The chats show the company aggressively using copyright protection to take down multiple negative feedback.

 After the first hearing, in the case, the judge has granted ad-intreim injunction to WhiteHat Jr and asked Poonia to take down some tweets and to have a ‘healthy discussion’

WhiteHat Jr and their ads
In their marketing strategy, the company used a 12-year child named Wolf Gupta as their poster child and claimed that he had landed a lucrative job at Google. No such child exists. 
WhiteHat Jr faced a lot of criticism for its aggressive takedown of questions, or negative feedback to their platform.

In October 2020, The Advertising Standards Council of India had directed the company to take down 5 ads which claimed six-year-olds can learn how to develop apps. 

What next
Poonia has found a lot of support on social media platforms with over 100,000 people reacting to his post about the case withdrawal. Byju’s, WhiteHat Jr’s parent company hasn’t commented on the issue. It’s busines as usual with the company which recently acquired India’s largest coaching centre, and is on its way to acquire multiple companies. Education Startups in India have reported excellent growth since schools closed down across the country because of the pandemic. In 2020 alone, India’s edtech startups raised over $2.2 billion in funding.

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One response to “Indian edtech startup withdraws defamation case”

  1. […] the company regularly boasts about. While this trend in edtech has been seen in other countries, India especially, the fact remains that if the Chinese Govt has decided to tighten the regulations around […]

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