Twitter has taken a range of enforcement actions against certain Twitter accounts after the India government ordered the micro-blogging website to take down more than 500 accounts for clear violations of its rules. Also Read - Twitter to roll out Edit Tweet feature for Blue subscribers on September 21
Despite permanently banning these accounts, Twitter said that it does not believe that the actions it has been directed to take by the Ministry of Information Technology are consistent with the Indian law. Also Read - Twitter brings Instagram, Snapchat sharing to Android app, starts testing WhatsApp sharing in India
“In keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians. Also Read - Twitter removes over 45K accounts in India over child sexual exploitation, non-consensual nudity and more
“To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law,” the micro-blogging platform reiterated.
Twitter facing penal action in India
Due to its stance, the company is facing penal action as the IT Ministry has sent it three notices to block nearly 1,435 accounts that have been posting content in relation to the farmer protests in India. Some of its officials in India were also being threatened with jail time for not obeying the order.
Twitter said that it had withheld a portion of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under its ‘Country Withheld Content’ policy within India only.
Twitter had been initially asked to block 257 accounts using the #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide hashtag amid the farmers’ protest and suspended some high-profile accounts earlier this month. The company later unblocked them in a few hours saying that the “content is free speech and newsworthy”.
“We informed the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) of our enforcement actions today. We will continue to advocate for the right of free expression on behalf of the people we serve and are actively exploring options under Indian law — both for Twitter and for the accounts that have been impacted,” the company said in a blog post.
Twitter served with multiple blocking orders
In the past 10 days, Twitter has been served with many blocking orders by the Indian government under Section 69A of the IT Act.
The company said that out of these, two were emergency blocking orders that “we temporarily complied with but subsequently restored access to the content in a manner that we believe was consistent with Indian law”.
“After we communicated this to MeitY, we were served with a non-compliance notice,” Twitter said.
Twitter has also reached out to the Union IT Minister RS Prasad for the opportunity of a formal dialogue to resolve the issue over the removal of questionable accounts amid the farmer protest.
The government also took a serious note of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey “liking” a Tweet asking for an emoji for the hashtag #FarmersProtests.
-with inputs from IANS.