Twitter blocks tweets critical of India’s handling of Covid-19

26 Apr 2021197 Views

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The Indian government asked Twitter to block 52 tweets that criticised the handling of the current coronavirus wave in the country.

As India is ravaged by its latest wave of Covid-19, the government requested that Twitter remove critical tweets and the company has complied with dozens of these orders.

First reported by Indian outlet MediaNama, tweets from a member of parliament, a filmmaker, actors and others that were critical of the government and its handling of the current coronavirus situation were removed or blocked.

In total, 52 tweets that were critical of the government were removed or restricted from being viewed in India.

In one of the tweets that can still be viewed outside of the country, a state minister said the country would “never forgive” prime minister Narendra Modi for his handling of the crisis.

The government of Modi has faced criticism of its actions during the latest wave of infections, which is the most brutal yet. The country has been reporting more than 300,000 cases a day, putting severe pressure on its hospitals along with ventilator shortages. The US, EU, and UK have all offered assistance to India.

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Confirmed by The Verge, Twitter said that the company will remove tweets that violate local laws in India.

“If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of the Twitter Rules, we may withhold access to the content in India only. In all cases, we notify the account holder directly so they’re aware that we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account,” the company said.

Social media regulations in India allow for the government to order the removal or restriction of content that is defamatory or could incite violence.

It marks another chapter in Twitter’s tumultuous relationship with officials in India. During February’s farmer protests, the company blocked or removed hundreds of accounts at the behest of the government.

Twitter had initially refused to remove the posts about the farmer protests but the government threatened a notice of noncompliance against the company, which could have seen Twitter’s Indian employees held in custody.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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