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Block 1,178 Handles, Says India. Protecting Free Speech, Twitter Responds

Farmers Protest: Over 1,300 Twitter handles have fallen underneath the govenrment’s radar.

New Delhi:

The Indian authorities has requested microblogging platform Twitter to take away over a thousand extra accounts for allegedly spreading misinformation and provocative content material in reference to the farmers’ protest. It has mentioned that the 1,178 listed handles have Pakistani and Khalistani customers, official sources have mentioned. The social media website is but to fully adjust to the order, they mentioned. The corporate has, nevertheless, mentioned it was respecting native legal guidelines even whereas “defending its foundational precept of free expression”.

Earlier, on January 31, the Ministry of Electronics and Info Expertise had despatched a listing of 257 handles and tweets to be blocked for related causes. Twitter blocked these accounts for few hours earlier than unilaterally unblocking them shortly after.

On February 4, the ministry shared the recent record flagged by safety companies as accounts of Khalistan sympathisers or backed by Pakistan and working from overseas territories, threatening public order amid the farmers’ protest.

“Many of those accounts had been additionally automated bots that had been used for sharing and amplifying misinformation and provocative contents on farmers’ protests,” a supply mentioned.

A couple of days in the past, Twitter world CEO Jack Dorsey had “favored” a number of tweets made by foreign-based celebrities in assist of farmer protests, sources mentioned. In view of this, the platform’s defiance of the federal government’s order to dam the accounts raises a number of questions.

“The federal government additionally objects to Twitter CEO liking some tweets by celebrities because it raises questions on his neutrality,” the supply mentioned.

A Twitter spokesperson mentioned the platform was guided by ideas of transparency and empowering the general public dialog. “If we obtain a legitimate authorized request about doubtlessly unlawful content material on Twitter, we assessment it underneath each the Twitter guidelines and native regulation. If the content material violates Twitter’s guidelines, the content material will probably be faraway from the service,” the spokesperson mentioned.

“Whether it is decided to be unlawful in a selected jurisdiction, however not in violation of the Twitter guidelines, we could withhold entry to the content material within the location solely. In all circumstances, we notify the account holder immediately in order that they’re conscious we have acquired a authorized order pertaining to the account. Our aim is to respect native regulation whereas defending our foundational ideas of free expression,” the spokesperson mentioned.

The Centre’s newest transfer comes amid the “toolkit” controversy surrounding the farmer protest. Swedish local weather activist Greta Thunberg had final week tweeted a “toolkit” which she later deleted. This doc, in line with the police, aimed to unfold disaffection and ill-will towards the federal government of India and sought to create disharmony amongst varied social, non secular, and cultural teams.

Exterior Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday mentioned there was a cause why his ministry reacted to the remarks of celebrities like Ms Thunberg.

“I believe it (“toolkit”) has revealed lots. We’ve to attend and see what comes out. You possibly can see there was a cause why the overseas ministry reacted to the statements which some celebrities gave out on issues on which they clearly did not know very a lot,” Mr Jaishankar mentioned.

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