• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Social media platform X takes down accounts following India’s orders

Shanghai,China-July 30th 2023: X (new Twitter), Threads, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp. Douyin(TikTok) and Sina Weibo app icons. Assorted online social media software brands

Shajil KumarBy: Shajil Kumar

Social media platform X said on Thursday it took down certain accounts and posts following an order by the Indian government, which local media reports say are linked to ongoing protests by farmers demanding higher prices for crops.

The platform formerly known as Twitter did not provide details of the removals but said it disagreed with the action and that the move amounts to curtailing freedom of expression.

However, a PTI report quoting sources said India’s electronics and information technology ministry has ordered social media platforms to temporarily block 177 accounts linked to the farmers’ protests at the request of the home ministry.

The action puts the spotlight again on the struggles faced by foreign technology giants operating in India under prime minister Narendra Modi’s government, which has often criticised Google, Facebook, and Twitter for not doing enough to tackle what it calls fake or “anti-India” content.

X said its position on the matter was consistent with its ongoing legal challenge against the Indian government’s content-blocking orders.

“We will withhold these accounts and posts in India alone; however, we disagree with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts,” X’s Global Government Affairs said in a post, without naming the accounts.

The statement comes following a week of protests by thousands of Indian farmers who have camped 200 km (125 miles) north of Delhi after police blocked their march to the capital and fired tear gas at crowds trying to press forward.

National daily Hindustan Times reported that the “emergency” blocking orders issued last week by the government cover accounts of some farmers’ groups and supporters.

The home affairs and information technology ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jairam Ramesh, a lawmaker from India’s main opposition Congress party, said in a post on X that the move represented the “murder of democracy in India”.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that be it media or social media, the Modi government is suppressing every voice of truth.

X’s Global Government Affairs said legal restrictions do not allow it to publish the government orders but the platform wants to maintain transparency.

“This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making,” it said. (Agencies)

 

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