Twitter has blocked over 97 per cent of accounts and posts flagged by the IT Ministry for posting and sharing provocative content and misinformation around the farmers’ protest, agency reports stated on Thursday.
The development comes after the Twitter representatives and the Information Technology Secretary on Wednesday held talks where the microblogging platform was issued a stern warning to comply with local laws or be prepared for action.
With this move, it is highly likely that the fortnight-long deadlock between Twitter and the Indian government will finally come to an end.
The company has not made any statement on the matter so far.
Among those whose accounts have been withheld include: Anand Singh, member of Aam Aadmi Party (account deleted); @AdilKhanINC (account deleted); Anjana Om Modi (account withheld in India); Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) (Ugrahan) (account withheld in India); CP Gurjar, Member of Congress in Rajasthan (account and his tweet withheld in India); @indijaswal, Canada-based user with over 40,000 followers (account withheld in India), and several others, an IANS report said.
“@MPSukhram’s account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand,” is the message posted on his account to users who access the page from India. This account, however, can be accessed from outside of the country.
The company, facing penal action if does not comply with the directions given by the IT Ministry in three notices to block nearly 1,435 accounts in the wake of the farmers’ protests, had earlier said that it withheld a portion of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under its ‘Country Withheld Content’ policy within India only.
Twitter on Wednesday morning had said it has suspended over 500 accounts and blocked access to several others within India, but maintained that it would not block accounts of “news media entities, journalists, activists and politicians” as doing so “would violate their fundamental right to free expression” guaranteed under the country’s law.
It, however, yielded to the orders later after the crucial meeting on Wednesday evening.
In a statement, Twitter had said that it did not believe that the actions it has been directed to take by the IT Ministry are consistent with the Indian law.
“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 had said in its blog post earlier this week.
Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad replied in Rajya Sabha on Thursday: “There is freedom of speech but Article 19A says that it is subject to reasonable restrictions.”