Twitter responds to Indian govt’s directive to remove 1,178 accounts
Twitter on Monday responded to the directive by the Indian government to take down 1,178 Pak-Khalistani handles for posting provocative content on the farmers' protest.
“Twitter is guided by principles of transparency and empowering the public conversation. If we receive a valid legal request about potentially illegal content on Twitter, we review it under the Twitter Rules and local law. If the content violates Twitter’s Rules, the content will be removed from the service. If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction but not in violation of the Twitter Rules, we may withhold access to the content in the location only. In all cases, we notify the account holder directly so they’re aware we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account. Our goal is to respect local law while protecting our foundational principles of free expression,” said a Twitter spokesperson in a statement to HT Tech.
According to Twitter, the company reviews legal requests for any indications that they may be seeking to restrict freedom of expression. It further said that the company takes extra care to review requests that relate specifically to journalists or that contain political speech or newsworthy content.
Earlier, the government asked Twitter to remove over 1,000 accounts for spreading misinformation and provocative content on farmers agitation.
According to The Hindu report, these accounts were flagged by security agencies. Some of the accounts were automated bots that were used to propagate misinformation on the protest, the report added.
The report further said Twitter had not complied with the order yet. The list was given to the company on February 4.
Twitter has found itself at loggerheads with the Indian government after the company declined to comply with the directive to block more than 250 accounts and posts. Amid the ongoing farmers' protests in India, the government had sought an “emergency blocking” of “provocative” Twitter hashtags such as "#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide" and dozens of accounts, reported Reuters.
Twitter initially complied with the directive but later restored most of the accounts, citing “insufficient justification” to extend the suspension. After this, the government warned the company of “legal consequences” that could entail fines or jail.
Twitter’s Public Policy Director for India and South Asia, Mahima Kaul, has also stepped down from her position. She will continue with the role until March-end.
India, just like for several other internet firms, is an important market for Twitter. The country has nearly 700 million internet users, according to internet tracker firm Statista. India is also one of the top three markets for Twitter.