On Monday, news broke out about Twitter blocking a couple of high-profile accounts in India owing to the ongoing farmer protests against the government. The block was implemented under Legal Terms on some Twitter accounts of popular figures from the world of politics, activists, and actors. Twitter is yet to release the exact reason behind these bans but the “legal demand” could indicate at prevention of spreading of misinformation and fake news. Also Read - Twitter's Clubhouse-like Spaces now available for Android: What is it, how to use, and more questions answered
Currently, Twitter has restored all the accounts after a 12-hour blockage. If you are seeking details about this episode of Twitter withholding accounts, here’s a collection of all the basic points you need to know. Also Read - Twitter will permanently ban accounts found posting misleading content on COVID-19
Twitter India withholds accounts: What is it?
Twitter has withheld a couple of high-profile accounts in India after there was a legal demand. There’s no exact explanation from Twitter behind the reason for blocking these accounts. If you consider the Twitter policies, a blockage owing to legal demand is a result of being “compelled to withhold the entire account specified (e.g., @username) in response to a valid legal demand, such as a court order.” Also Read - Deep Nostalgia brings old photos to life: Here's how to use this AI tool
As a result, tweets or content from the select accounts would be blocked until further notice. Twitter is yet to give out a time period of the blockage.
Who got blocked?
According to a report from the Free Press Journal, the official accounts of actor Sushant Singh (@sushant_says), activist Hansraj Meena, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Jarnail Singh, CPI(M) leader Md Salim and more were withheld by Twitter. Some of the bigger entities such as the Kisan Ekta Morcha, The Caravan magazine, and more were also blocked.
Vinod Jose from The Caravan magazine tweeted out that there was no explanation given to them prior to the account being blocked.
Why were the accounts withheld?
According to Twitter thread from AFP journalist Bhuvan Bagga, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology directed Twitter to block 250 tweets that were claimed to use hashtags promoting the dissemination of fake news and provocative tweets related to the ongoing farmer protests on the border of Delhi. “Incitement to genocide is a grave threat to public order and therefore the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) ordered for blocking of these Twitter accounts and Tweets under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act,” his report adds.
Later, Twitter gave out the following statement, “many countries have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content. In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time. Transparency is vital to protecting freedom of expression, so we have a notice policy for withheld content.”
What’s the current status?
Twitter has currently restored access to the withheld accounts without any announcement or official statement. Content from all the withheld accounts is now visible.