Government asks Twitter to ‘withhold’ accounts for hateful tweets on farmers' protest
The crackdown, sources said, was done based on orders issued by the Centre asking Twitter to withhold as many as 250 URLs who were running a particular hashtag about farmers' protests
February 01, 2021 / 05:27 PM IST
Social media companies (Image Source: Reuters)
Twitter on February 1 “withheld” multiple accounts on its social media platform, including many linked with the ongoing farmers’ protest at Delhi borders against the new contentious central farm laws.
The crackdown, sources said, was done based on orders issued by the Centre asking Twitter to withhold as many as 250 URLs who were running a particular hashtag about farmers' protests.
Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) had directed Twitter to block these URLs which were using a particular hashtag and making fake and provocative tweets on January 30, news agency ANI quoted sources. “This was done on the request of MHA and law enforcement agencies to prevent any escalation of law and order in view of the ongoing farmers’ agitation,” it said.
Among the accounts withheld is farmers’ collective Kisan Ekta Morcha and farmers’ union BKU Ekta Urgahan both having followers in thousands. Also, several other individuals and organisational accounts, including one of a media outlet, were also withheld.
Among the individuals whose accounts have been withheld include that of actor Sushant Singh, Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati to name a few. Officials said that Shashi Shekhar Vempati’s account was blocked by a mistake and will be restored soon.
According to Twitter, when an account is “withheld” it means the social media platform “was compelled to withhold the entire account specified (e.g, @username) in response to a valid legal demand, such as a court order”.
The development comes in the wake of violence in Delhi on Republic Day on January 26 during a tractor parade of farmers protesting the new agriculture laws which resulted in the death of one person and injuries to over a hundred people, including police personnel.
The Delhi Police is probing the Republic Day violence wherein it has lodged multiple FIRs and booked, among others, several farmer leaders leading the protests at the national capital's borders for two months now.
The government has also put in place suspension of internet services at the three border points and their adjoining areas since January 29.
(With PTI inputs)