Editorial: Tweet trouble

Days after the Central government warned Twitter of ‘penal action’ over not complying with parts of its order to remove various tweets and block certain accounts over content related to the farmers’ protest, Twitter said on Wednesday it has taken action on more than 500 accounts and reduced visibility of some hashtags in India to comply with ‘several’ orders from the Indian government.

Twitter had suspended hundreds of Twitter accounts, several with links to farmers’ protests on agricultural reforms, at the request of New Delhi early last week, but then reversed its decision within hours citing users’ freedom of speech.

The company said on Wednesday that it was re-suspending most of those accounts, in some cases, permanently, and preventing certain terms from appearing in the Trends section.

The popular microblogging site said Twitter handles are only being blocked in India and will remain visible outside of the country as it believes orders by the Indian government are inconsistent with local law. It also said that no accounts belonging to news media entities, journalists, activists or politicians were taken down.

“To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law. We informed MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) of our enforcement actions today,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and other government departments have shifted to the homegrown microblogging site Koo after Twitter did not follow the government’s directive to block some tweets and accounts. While it is important to give space to protests in a democracy, it should not go against the very democracy itself.


NT Bureau