Microblogging website Twitter has been instructed by the Indian government to remove over a thousand Twitter accounts that are allegedly used for spreading provocative content and misinformation around the ongoing farmers’ protest.
The Union government has claimed that 1,178 Twitter handles have Pakistani and Khalistani users. Twitter, however, is yet to fully comply with the government directive.
Interestingly, the Centre had provided the microblogging website with a list of 257 handles and tweets to be blocked for spreading misinformation and provocative content. Twitter had blocked these accounts for a few hours before unilaterally unblocking them.
Fresh list sent on Feb 4
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on February 4 shared a fresh list flagged by security agencies as accounts of Khalistan sympathisers or backed by Pakistan and operating from foreign territories, threatening public order amid the farmers’ protest.
“Many of these accounts were also automated bots that were used for sharing and amplifying misinformation and provocative contents on farmers’ protests,” a source said.
Govt raises objection
A few days ago, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had “liked” several tweets made by foreign-based celebrities in support of farmer protests, sources said. In view of this, the platform’s defiance of the government’s order to block the accounts raises several questions.
“The government also objects to Twitter CEO liking some tweets by celebrities as it raises questions on his neutrality,” the source said.
The latest move comes amid the “toolkit” controversy surrounding the farmer protest. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg had last week tweeted a “toolkit” which she later deleted. This document, according to the police, aimed to spread disaffection and ill-will against the government of India and sought to create disharmony among various social, religious, and cultural groups.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said there was a reason why his ministry reacted to the remarks of celebrities like Thunberg.
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