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Don't maintain double standards: Govt directs Twitter to deactivate 257 handles

Twitter cannot make judgements on the request to block objectionable handles, a senior government official told Twitter employees during the meeting on Wednesday.

twitter-logoHimanshu Mishra | February 11, 2021 | Updated 10:35 IST
Twitter mobile app icon on iPhone (Image: Unsplash)
Twitter mobile app icon on iPhone (Image: Unsplash)

The government has told Twitter to delete 257 handles. The government termed the list of 257 handles non-negotiable even it agreed to meet Twitter officials to discuss issues flagged. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Wednesday agreed to a virtual meeting with Twitter officials to discuss issues that were flagged by the government earlier.

During the meeting, the Centre read out the Riot Act to Twitter. The Secretary Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology reportedly told Twitter officials not to maintain double standards.

In addition, the government also pulled up Twitter for dragging its feet in the aftermath of the Red Fort incident while it had acted swiftly to block objectionable handles, including that of former US president Donald Trump following violence at the US Capitol.

"Twitter cannot be the adjudicator on the Constitution of India and can take legal recourse on the government's request to block handles. However, Twitter cannot make judgements on the government's request to block objectionable handles," the Government of India told the social media giant.

The Secretary Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology also asked Twitter officials how the micro-blogging website is "transparent" if it allows millions of bots to operate.

As per details accessed by India Today TV, Ajay Sawhney, Secretary Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) met Twitter officials on Wednesday.

As per sources, the government will promote swadeshi platform Koo against Twitter. The government is annoyed with Twitter's response on its response on January 26 violence.

It is also being said that the government is not happy with Twitter's response despite repeated notice to streamline the system.

The indication is that maximum ministers from the Indian government may soon be going to shift to Koo platform.

Twitter India on Tuesday had responded to the government of India and requested a formal dialogue with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. "An acknowledgment to the receipt of the non-compliance notice has also been formally communicated," the company had said in a statement.

This week, the government sent a notice to Twitter India where it asked another 1178 accounts to be removed from the platform. This was the second notice, after a few days, when Twitter failed to remove or block around 250 accounts and tweets that the government registered as a non-compliance of its orders.

Twitter India in a blog post earlier on Wednesday posted its response to blocking orders from the government.

"Beginning on 26 January 2021, our global team provided 24/7 coverage and took enforcement action judiciously and impartially on content, Trends, Tweets, and accounts that were in violation of the Twitter Rules our global policy framework that governs every Tweet on the service," the company said in its blog post.

The company also added that it took a range of enforcement actions including permanent suspension in certain cases against more than 500 accounts escalated across all MeitY orders for clear violations of Twitter's rules.

Twitter also listed some of the actions it took as per the government orders, "Specifically, we: Took action on hundreds of accounts that violated the Twitter Rules, particularly inciting violence, abuse, wishes of harm, and threats that could trigger the risk of offline harm, prevented certain terms that violated our Rules from appearing in the Trends section, suspended more than 500 accounts that were engaging in clear examples of platform manipulation and spam, tackled misinformation based on the highest potential for real-world harm, and prioritized labelling of Tweets that were in violation of our synthetic and manipulated media policy."

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