New Delhi: Twitter on Wednesday informed that it has taken multiple enforcement actions -- including permanent suspension of over 500 accounts for clear “breach of policy” -- in response to the central government’s ''legal requests'' to take them down.
The Indian Government had been asking Twitter for over a week to bring down handles, many of them originating in Pakistan and Canada, circulating false and malicious hashtags like #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide. These handles, run by rabidly-anti-India forces, clearly intended to use the farmers’ protest to incite riots across the country.
The Government kept saying that “a motivated campaign to abuse, inflame and create tension in society on unsubstantiated grounds cannot be called freedom of speech” but Twitter said the content was “newsworthy.”
The social media giant in a statement said on Wednesday, "Separate to our enforcement under the Twitter Rules, over the course of the last 10 days, Twitter has been served with several separate blocking orders by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act."
"We took a range of enforcement actions -- including permanent suspension in certain cases -- against more than 500 accounts escalated across all Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology orders for clear violations of Twitter's Rules," the statement added.
The company informed that they took steps to reduce the visibility of the hashtags containing harmful content, which included prohibiting them from trending on Twitter. "Following the reports of violence in recent weeks, we are sharing a granular update on our proactive efforts to enforce our rules and defend our principles in India," it said.
It further said that they separately withheld a portion of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under our ''Country Withheld Content'' policy within India only.
"These accounts continue to be available outside of India. Because we do not believe that the actions we have been directed to take are consistent with Indian law, and, 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," the statement added.
This statement comes amid the 'Toolkit' controversy surrounding the ongoing farmers' protest. The Central government on Monday had directed the microblogging platform Twitter to remove 1,178 Pakistani-Khalistani accounts spreading misinformation and provocative content on farmers agitation, sources said.