Top Twitter executives may face arrest if the micro-blogging website violates Narendra Modi’s government order to take down user accounts who posted inflammatory content, especially those with the hashtag Modi Planning Farmers’ Genocide, according to reports.
“If Twitter acts hesitatingly or grudgingly, or after 10-12 days of our orders, it’s not really a case of compliance.” Union IT Secretary Sawhney said.
Twitter yesterday said that it has taken down nearly half the accounts the government had sought to be blocked and took action against any other tweet that appeared provocative or misleading.
The government had asked Twitter to block 1,178 accounts with links to Pakistan and Khalistan supporters that were spreading misinformation on farmers’ protest.
The Modi government has not taken kindly to Twitter going public just before seeking a meeting over the issue.
Sawhney had flayed Twitter’s blogpost prior to the meeting as unusual which forced the IT Ministry headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad to cancel the meeting.
“Upon the request of Twitter seeking a meeting with the government, Secretary Sawhney was to engage with senior management of Twitter. In this light a blog post published prior to this engagement is unusual,” the IT ministry said on Koo, an incumbent Atmanirbhar microblogging app.
However, the meeting took place late in the evening with the government expressing strong displeasure about Twitter’s action over spreading inflammatory content and misinformation on the farmer protests.
Sawhney made it clear that the use of the controversial hashtag was neither journalistic freedom nor freedom of expression, because such irresponsible tweets could provoke and inflame the situation.
Twitter, however, plans to approach the courts as it holds ground in the defence of “right of free expression on behalf of the people they serve.
“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,” Twitter said.
In reply, top IT Ministry sources accused Twitter of making commercial and business benefits by giving free hand to hate-mongers to spread poisonous speech in the name of freedom of speech.
Twitter executives expressed their continuing commitment towards building their services in India and that they have also requested for better engagement between the Indian government and the company’s global team.
Sawhney questioned Twitter’s differential treatment of Capitol Hill and Red Fort violence.
“Twitter, as a business entity working in India, must also respect the Indian laws and democratic institutions. Twitter is free to formulate its own rules and guidelines as any other business entity does, but Indian laws which are enacted by the Parliament of India must be followed irrespective of Twitter’s own rules and guidelines,” the IT Ministry said.
This article first appeared in the NFA Post and is republished with permission