The government on Wednesday warned Twitter that the social networking website could face closure
in India if it does not remove 28 web pages with objectionable content within the next 12 hours. The home ministry has asked the department of electronics and information technology (IT) to pass this directive to Twitter
, which has steadfastly refused to block the 28 web pages whose removal was sought by the Indian government three days ago.
"If that is not done, appropriate action will be taken by the Indian government," a top official said, indicating that the popular social networking website may have to face a temporary blockade in the country till it falls in line.
A source explained that the said content still had potential to trigger communal violence in India and its removal was imperative from the point of view of national security.
Twitter has meanwhile promised to cooperate with the government after the Prime Minister's Office complained to it about objectionable content on six accounts resembling the PMO's official account. As the government blocked the six accounts after Twitter took no action, the social networking portal has communicated to the PMO that it would be locating the unlawful content.
Twitter has told the PMO that it could not take action earlier because the government entity did not inform it through proper procedure electronically and hence the request was not located.
"India is important to us and we would like to have clearer communication in these matters in the future, it said, adding that Twitter should be put in touch with appropriate departments in this regard. Earlier, the PMO had asked the Cyber Security Cell of the department of IT to block these accounts as they had content with communal overtones and could have serious ramifications as these could be mistaken as the official account of the PMO.
Facebook, too, said it will remove content, block pages or even disable accounts of those users who upload content that incite violence or perpetuate hate speech.
"We have received requests from Indian authorities and agencies and are working through those requests and responding to the agencies. We encourage people to continue to use our tools to report content they are concerned about so that we can investigate and take action," the spokesperson added.
Given the gravity of the situation, which the social networking site officials term an emergency situation, a large number of Facebook employees are working round-the-clock in both India and the US to review and monitor the content and take necessary action, which the company says is part of its social responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the US has said it is not part of the Indian probe that is looking into doctored images and videos being uploaded on the Internet by elements in Pakistan to create social unrest in the country.
"The Indian government itself is investigating, so we're going to let that go forward," US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
On the larger question of Internet freedom, she said: "The US has always been on the side of its full freedom. But as the Indian government continues to investigate these instances and preserve security, we also always urge the government to maintain its own commitment to human rights, fundamental freedoms, rule of law," she added.With PTI inputs