Twitter acts on Centre's warning, blocks some accounts 'within India'; advocates right of free expression
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Ordered by the Indian government to block 1,1178 accounts for sharing misinformation and provocative content around the ongoing farmers' agitation, Twitter on Wednesday said it has withheld some of the accounts for blocking "within India only", but has not blocked handles of civil society activists, politicians and media as "it would violate their fundamental right to free expression" guaranteed under country's law.
In a blogpost, the social media giant clarified its stance saying that it had taken steps to reduce visibility of the hashtags containing harmful content that included prohibiting them from trending on Twitter and appearing as recommended Search terms. Twitter has also informed the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) of its enforcement action.
Twitter noted that it has taken a range of enforcement actions against more than 500 accounts escalated across all MeitY orders - including permanent suspension in certain cases for violation of Twitter rules.
The Centre had ordered Twitter to block 1,178 accounts with links to Pakistan and Khalistan supporters which were spreading misinformation and provocative content on farmers' protest.
The IT Ministry, on February 4, shared a list of these Twitter accounts that were flagged by security agencies as accounts of Khalistan sympathisers or backed by Pakistan and operating from foreign territories, and causing threat to public order amid the ongoing farmer stir.
Many of these accounts were also automated bots that were used for sharing and amplifying misinformation and provocative content on farmers' protests.
Earlier, the government had ordered Twitter to take down handles and hashtags that suggested a farmer genocide was being planned, saying such misinformation and inflammatory content will incite passion, and impact public order.
It has also warned Twitter of penal action in case of failure to comply with its directive. Twitter had blocked those accounts for few hours before unilaterally unblocking them.
At that time, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had asked the microblogging site to block 257 URLs (web addresses) and one hashtag under the relevant provision of the law as they were "spreading misinformation about (farmer) protests and has the potential to lead to imminent violence affecting public order situation in the country."
(With inputs from agencies)
Posted By: Abhinav Gupta