The government has asked Twitter to delete tweets spreading ‘fake news’ about the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government sources told NDTV that the accounts were restricted for "circulating fake news, old photos, etc., and trying to mislead and create panic", and not because they were critical of the government's management of the crisis.
A Twitter spokesperson told NDTV that the action had been taken “in response to a legal request from the Government of India".
"We are tackling COVID-19 misinformation using a combination of product, technology, and human review - these critical efforts will continue to be a priority. In order for content related to COVID-19 to be labeled or removed under this policy, it must: Advance a claim of fact, expressed in definitive terms; Demonstrably false or misleading, based on widely available, authoritative sources; Likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm," the spokesperson said.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The account holders in question had been notified via email.
Technology policy news platform MediaNama reported that 52 tweets were censored. Some of the posts deleted were by Revanth Reddy, a Member of Parliament (MP); Moloy Ghatak, a West Bengal state minister; actor Vineet Kumar Singh; and two filmmakers, Vinod Kapri and Avinash Das were taken.
PTI reported on April 25 that Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms were asked to remove posts spreading misinformation and panic.
A tweet by Congress National Spokesperson Pawan Khera was also taken down.
Khera said he has sent a legal notice to Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Twitter for taking down his April 12 tweet about "double standards on Kumbh Mela and Tablighi Jamaat".
India has been reporting more than 3 lakh new COVID-19 cases a day since April 21, the highest single-day spikes recorded by any country. Social media has been flooded with people looking for hospital beds, medical oxygen, and essential medicines such as Remdesivir.The government has received criticism for its handling of the pandemic, with many of the view that the Centre was unprepared for the second wave of COVID-19 cases.