On Monday, former Twitter chief and CEO Jack Dorsey alleged that India, Nigeria, and Turkey had threatened to shut down Twitter Unless it was in accordance with the orders to restrict accounts mentioned by the government.
Dorsey, who signed off as Twitter CEO in 2021, told on Monday that India threatened the microblogging company with a shut down and raids on employees if it you not act in accordance with the orders of the government – that is, requests to reduce posts and Suspend accounts that criticised the government over the protest by farmers in 2020 and 2021.
in an interview with YouTube news show breaking points, Dorsey said, “It’s manifested in ways such as: ‘we will shut down Twitter in India’, which is a very large market for us; ‘we will rate the homes of your employees’, which they did; and this is India a democratic country.”
Dorsey also pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has repeatedly refused engaging in online censorship but the Indian government on Tuesday said that Dorsey’s allegations were an “outright lie”.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, junior minister for information technology, said in a post on Twitter, “no one went to jail nor was Twitter ‘shut down.’ Dorsey’s Twitter Regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of the Indian law.”
Indian farmers began protesting for agricultural reforms in 2020, which went on for a year and were among the biggest fans by the government of Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP). The protests by farmers concluded in late 2021 after winning concessions.
Dorsey said, “India is a country that had many requests of us around farmers protest, around particular journalists that were critical of the government.”
at the time of the protest, the Indian government wanted and “emergency blocking“ of the “provocative“ Twitter “#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide” along with several other accounts on Twitter.
initially, the microblogging site tried to negotiate with the government as per its regulations but it later reinstated most of the accounts that were suspended “Insufficient justification“ to continue the ban.
In the following weeks, Indian police visited a Twitter office as a part of another enquiry related to tagging of some governing party posts as told. At the time, Twitter complained of being worried about staff safety.
In his interview, Dorsey also said that many contents take down requests at the time of protest was “around particular journalists that were critical of the Modi government.”
Ever since Modi assumed office in 2014, India’s ranking in the world press freedom index has lowered from 148 to 161, out of 180 countries, its lowest ranking ever.
Türkiye and Nigeria
Dorsey also alleged of similar pressure from the Turkish and Nigerian government respectively, who had restricted the platform in their countries at different points, before lifting the bans. Twitter could not even put its employees on the ground in Nigeria due to fear of the governments, Dorsey told breaking point. Mohammadu Bahari— serious president from May 2015 to May 20 23, had a very hostile relationship with Twitter.
Nigeria – the largest democracy in Africa suspended Twitter in 2021 for removing a post from Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionist. The ban was lifted in January 2022 when Twitter reportedly agreed to open a local office, and agreed to the other demands by the government.
Talking about Turkey, Dorsey said, “Turkey is very similar, we had so many request from Turkey. We fought Turkey in their courts and often one, but they threatened to shut us down constantly.”
Talking about the relationship between big tech and Modi, the PM and his ministers or frequent users of Twitter but the free speech activists say that the administration abide by excessive censorship of content it finds is critical to its interest. Dorsey‘s remarks have once again highlighted the struggles faced by tech giants operating under Modi‘s rule.