Twitter has been the talk of the town for quite some time now. The micro-blogging platform is the where people invoke all their rights of Freedom of Speech and Expression which has been recently highlighted by The Ministry of Electronics and Information technology (MeitY) of India.
The government of India called on Twitter for non-compliance and consequently, the platform took down 97% of the accounts that were flagged by the Indian Information Technology ministry. The government had directed the social media platform to permanently suspend over 1,435 handles in two different orders on account of spreading misinformation on the farmer’s protest and agitating the crowd on the subject.
As headlined in a report by Financial Express, Twitter falls in line and confirms to have blocked over 1,398 handles that were flagged by the Indian government.
Prior to this, Twitter had confirmed that it has permanently suspended over 500 accounts from its platform for violating community rules and guidelines and also ‘withheld’ some accounts flagged by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology instead of permanently suspending them, as mentioned in a report by Financial Express.
Furthermore, in the report, it is mentioned that the action comes after Twitter’s top executives and Indian IT Secretary, Ajay Sawhney held a meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the matter. In the discussion, the main point of concern was the hashtag ‘farmer genocide’ which was trending on the platform and aggravating the issue on the farmer’s protest. The content on the platform was clearly harmful to the Indian government after the incident that took place on January 26, 2021. The Indian government conveyed their displeasure to the social media platform on their great delay and unwillingness to comply with the government of India’s emergency order to remove the hashtag that was provoking the farmer’s protest issue and was being used to spread misinformation to the masses.
India is not the only country where riots and protests are happening; in recent events of the Capitol Hill incident that took place in the United States compared to the Republic Day episode in India, there was evidently a ‘differential treatment’. Such actions by Twitter are not appreciated in India and this was clearly communicated by Ajay Sawhney in the meeting with Twitter’s top executives.
Having said that, the government of India reminded the platform that lawfully passed orders are binding on all citizens, all platforms and all businesses. These decisions are absolute and should be abided by all.
Twitter withheld some accounts instead of suspending them because of the “Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression” as it mentioned in a statement that by doing so, Twitter was violating their right to Freedom of speech under the law, to which the government of India replied by saying “Spreading misinformation using an incendiary and baseless hashtag referring to ‘farmer genocide’ at a time when such irresponsible content can provoke and inflame the situation is neither journalistic freedom nor freedom of expression.”, as mentioned in a report by Financial Express.