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Twitter: Withheld ‘a portion’ of account, won’t block media

The Twitter blog post that listed the action it has taken on the government’s order to block 1,178 accounts said, “In keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians.”

SNS | New Delhi |

Twitter on Wednesday explained its stand on blocking orders of certain handles for allegedly spreading misinformation on the farmers’ protests and provocative content. The microblogging platform said that it had ‘withheld a portion of the accounts.’

The company said that it would restrict the access of the accounts within India instead of an outright ban.

However, the company said that it does not believe that the actions it has been directed to take by the IT Ministry are consistent with the Indian law.

The Twitter blog post that listed the action it has taken on the government’s order to block 1,178 accounts said, “In keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians.”

“To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law,” the micro-blogging platform reiterated.

The government had asked Twitter to remove 1,178 accounts that it said belonged to “Pakistani and Khalistani users” and were spreading misinformation on the farmers’ protests since November 26 at Delhi borders.

In its blog, Twitter has said that its platform is to ‘empower voices to be heard and continued to make improvements’ and that irrespective of one’s views or perspective, everyone ‘felt safe participating in public conversation.’

Twitter said, “We will continue to advocate for the right of free expression on behalf of the people we serve and are actively exploring options under Indian law – both for Twitter and for the accounts that have been impacted. We remain committed to safeguarding the health of the conversation occurring on Twitter, and strongly believe that the Tweets should flow.”

In the last 10 days, Twitter has been served with several separate blocking orders by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) under Section 69A of Information Technology Act.

Twitter said that out of these orders, two were emergency blocking orders that ‘we temporarily complied with but subsequently restored access to the content in a manner that we believe was consistent with Indian law.’

“After we communicated this to MeitY, we were served with a non-compliance notice,” the company informed. Twitter on Tuesday reached out to Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for a formal dialogue to resolve this issue.

In the first notice, the ministry asked Twitter to block 257 accounts for a hashtag “#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide” and then the latest one to block 1,178 accounts.