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Twitter begins blocking accounts as per Centre’s request: Report

The issue came to a head on February 9 after reports emerged that the Centre may drag the social media platform into a legal mire if it failed to “quickly comply” with requests.

February 10, 2021 / 09:04 AM IST
Twitter on February 1 withheld multiple accounts following a government order. (Source: Reuters)

Twitter on February 1 withheld multiple accounts following a government order. (Source: Reuters)

Twitter has come around to the Centre’s request to remove handles allegedly held by “Pakistani-Khalistani” elements and blocked almost half the accounts on the government’s list, officials told The Economic Times.

“We can see that the company has started to take action,” a government official told the paper.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.

The initial list of 257 accounts were requested to be removed by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on January 31, after they tweeted using the ‘farmer genocide’ hashtag – of these 126 are now inactive, officials said.

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Later on February 4, the ministry asked the microblogging site to block 1,178 accounts which were “flagged by security agencies as backed by Pakistan or as Khalistan sympathisers,” the report said. Of these 583 are now inactive, the sources added.

The issue came to a head on February 9 after reports emerged that the Centre may drag the social media platform into a legal mire if it failed to “quickly comply” with requests.

The Indian government has asked the microblogging site to delete around 1,400 handles for allegedly “instigating protests against the farm bills.”

In case of seeking legal recourse, it was reported the Centre could lodge an FIR against Twitter under Section 69A (3) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which also allows the Centre to suspend the platform “in national interest or for public order.”

The section was also used to ban over 200 Chinese apps in 2020.

The consideration came after Twitter “was the only exception” and lagged on taking action based on requests from the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) while YouTube and Facebook “proactively complied,” officials told the paper.

The government was also displeased that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey liked pro-farmer tweets made by celebrities bring into question “neutrality of the platform,” the report noted.

Amid the row, multiple government departments and ministers have moved to alternative indigenous microblogging site called Koo.

Sources also told ET that IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was unlikely to engaged in dialogue requested by the company and would be instead represented by MeitY Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney.

Twitter did not respond to queries, the report said.

Follow our full coverage on the Farmers' Protest here
Moneycontrol News
first published: Feb 10, 2021 09:04 am

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