Complying with the government’s requests, Twitter on Saturday, 24 April, has censored 52 tweets that were critical of India’s handling of the second surge of COVID-19.
Medianama, a news portal that reports on matters pertaining to India’s tech policy, said that some of the posts that have now been censored included tweets by Revanth Reddy, a sitting Member of Parliament; Moloy Ghatak, a West Bengal state minister; actor Vineet Kumar Singh; and two filmmakers, Vinod Kapri and Avinash Das.
One of the Twitter users Pieter Friedrich, who is a freelance journalist and activist, confirmed on his social media account about receiving a notice from the micro-blogging company about his tweet.
The tweet in concern, now has been “withheld in India in response to a legal demand”, says the notice.
While the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY) is yet to comment on the matter, in response to a query regarding the now censored posts, a Twitter spokesperson told Medianama that they only remove COVID-19 misinformation, if it poses a threat.
“When we receive a valid legal request, we review it under both the Twitter Rules and local law. If the content violates Twitter’s Rules, the content will be removed from the service. If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of the Twitter Rules, we may withhold access to the content in India only. In all cases, we notify the account holder directly so they’re aware that we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account...”
The report has also sampled some of the concerned tweets. While West Bengal state minister Moloy Ghatak had tweeted that India would “never forgive” PM Modi for playing down the seriousness of the pandemic, ABP News Editor Pankaj Jha had tweeted calling out the government’s double standards regarding the Tablighi Jamaat event and the Kumbh Mela – the latter was allowed to be held in the middle of the second wave.
Previously in February, the government had demanded Twitter to take down posts during the farmers’ protests that carried the “baseless” and “incendiary” farmer genocide hashtag.