Social Media giant, Twitter has expressed its dismay and worry over the Indian government’s clampdown on its staff as the bird app is worried over their safety. It would be recalled that the Indian Police had visited its New Delhi house as a result of a tweet the governing party official being labeled as “manipulated media”.
Twitter and the Indian authorities have been recently engrossed in tense back and forth with the government of India asking the bird app to restrict the content on its page where it alleged that Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s government has aversion for criticism and is thus trying to stifle dissenting voices. The content also criticized the handling of the corona virus pandemic by the Indian government.
Twitter hit back when it averred that it has “concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police” and “the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.”
India’s IT ministry in its response to Twitter’s statement said it is “totally baseless, false and an attempt to defame India.” It called on Twitter to “comply with the laws of the land” rather than “dictating what India’s legal policy framework should be.”
The ministry further assured that social media companies’ workers, including that of Twitter are and will always remain safe in India.
On Monday, Indian police visited the Twitter office in New Delhi to serve a notice directing it to answer questions about its tagging of the tweet as manipulated.
“It appears that Twitter has some information which is not known to us on the basis of which they have classified it as such,” police said in a statement.
The government of India had in February announced new regulations for technology companies, in what it called a bid to hold them more accountable for content shared on their platforms. A 90-day grace period was given for the companies to comply and it ended Wednesday.
The Governing party Leaders had tweeted part of a document where it alleged that it was created by the Congress party, the major opposition party to smear the name of the government on its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The Congress party leaders in their reaction reported the claim to Twitter, claiming it was forged. Twitter on its part marked some of the ruling party’s posts as “manipulated media”.
A post or group of posts tagged “manipulated media’ in twitter rules refers to posts that are “fabricated or deceptively altered”
This did not go down well with the leaders of the Morsi ruling party and the government as the Police to Twitter’s office to inquire why the tweet was tagged manipulated.
On Thursday, Twitter released a statement stating that to keep their services available in India, they will strive to comply with the applicable laws in the country.
“But, just as we do around the world, we will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency, a commitment to empowering every voice on the service, and protecting freedom of expression and privacy under the rule of law,” it said.
In recent times, The Indian Government has come under fire as critics accuse it of trying to silence criticism on social media, most especially Twitter, an allegation senior leaders of the governing party denied.
In the new social media regulation law, the government would be able to police online content by requiring internet platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to erase content that authorities deem to be unlawful and to help with police investigations, including identifying the originators of “mischievous information.”
Social media platforms, which include Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, were given three months to comply with the new regulations.