In its update on action taken against accounts spreading inflammatory "farmer genocide" tweets and pro-Pakistan and Khalistan agenda, social media giant Twitter has said it has reduced visibility of tweets spreading "harmful content" and permanently suspended over 500 accounts violating its rules.
Separately, the company today withheld "a portion" of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under its 'Country Withheld Content' policy within India only. Twitter said these accounts continue to be available outside of India. Twitter said it has not taken any action on accounts of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians as it violated "speech and freedom of expression" under the Indian law. "To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law," Twitter said.
An update on our work to protect the public conversation in recent weeks in India. https://t.co/DNKjCup2j6— Twitter India (@TwitterIndia) February 10, 2021
The company said it has been served with several separate blocking orders by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. Of these, two were emergency blocking orders that we temporarily complied with but subsequently restored access in a manner that we believe was consistent with Indian law, it said. "After we communicated this to MeitY, we were served with a non-compliance notice."
The company said MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) has been informed about its action on Wednesday. "We will continue to maintain a dialogue with the Indian government and respectfully engage with them," it added.
Twitter also said "values that underpin the Open Internet and free expression" are increasingly under threat around the world. The social media giant added that it "exists to empower voices to be heard", and continues to make improvements so everyone - no matter their views or perspective - feels safe participating in the public conversation.
It said after January 26 violence during farmers' protest in Delhi, Twitter's global team provided 24/7 coverage and took enforcement action judiciously and impartially on content, trends, tweets, and accounts that violated its rules, Twitter clarified.
The company said the action was taken against hundreds of accounts inciting violence, abuse, wishes of harm, and threats that could trigger the risk of offline harm. Certain terms were prevented from appearing in trends and suspended over 500 accounts engaging in clear examples of its "platform manipulation and spam", it said.
Notably, the government had earlier warned Twitter officials of jail term or penalty for not following its order on banning of these accounts. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's liking of certain pro-farmer tweets by international celebrities also irked the ministry. Twitter also reached out to the government for a formal dialogue but IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad may likely decline the company's request.