Twitter on Wednesday said a government order asking it to block 1,178 accounts for allegedly spreading misinformation on the farmer protests were inconsistent with Indian law. It also said that for some accounts, the access will be restricted within India and that they will not be banned outright.
In a blog post, it said free expression was under threat around the world. “We have 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,” Twitter said in a blog post.
“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. To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law,” it said.
Govt v/s Twitter
The government had asked Twitter to remove 1,178 handles in all as they allegedly belonged to Pakistani and Khalistani users. These handles according to the government were spreading misinformation on the farmer protests outside Delhi since November.
Media reports quoting government sources said many of these accounts were automated bots that were used for sharing and amplifying misinformation. The government has said that it will take action against Twitter if its orders are not followed.
The reports said the accounts, the list for which were sent by the Indian government, were flagged by the country’s security agencies. The reports said the accounts belonged to Khalistani sympathizers who were in turn backed by Pakistan.
What Twitter said
“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.”
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