Govt ‘Asks’ Twitter To Remove ‘Manipulated’ Tag on Toolkit Posts
The details of government’s ‘objection’ to Twitter were shared by sources, but no official word is out yet.
The Government of India has made "strong" communication to Twitter, objecting to the use of the 'manipulated media' tags on certain tweets by Indian politicians, and asked the social media company to remove them "in the interests of fairness and equity", sources in the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) were cited as saying by news agency ANI on Friday, 21 May.
The tweets pertain to the 'toolkit' created to "derail the government's efforts against COVID-19", they said.
However, no official communication regarding the government’s ‘objection’ has come out so far.
"The Ministry has further stated that Twitter unilaterally chose to go ahead and designate certain tweets as 'manipulated', pending investigation. This action not only dilutes the credibility of Twitter but also puts a question mark on the status of Twitter as an 'intermediary'," the sources were quoted as saying.
What Is All This About?
Two days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the Indian National Congress (INC) for making a ‘toolkit’ targeting the government over its COVID handling, Twitter on Thursday, 20 May, tagged BJP National Spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet as “manipulated media”.
On Tuesday, 18 May, Patra had shared screenshots of the alleged “toolkit”, claiming that the Congress had created the document to “corner” Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his handling of the pandemic.
What Twitter Did
Two days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the Indian National Congress (INC) for making a ‘toolkit’ targeting the government over its COVID handling, Twitter on late Thursday tagged BJP National Spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet, as “manipulated media”.
Not only that, tweets by other Twitter handles, like Shefali Vaidya and TEAM BHARAT, were also marked ‘manipulated’. However, the tweets by many other BJP leaders and Twitter users were still up on the platform without any warning.
Did Congress Prepare the Said Toolkit?
In an analysis, fact-checking organisation Alt News and The Quint’s WebQoof team had found errors and discrepancies in the alleged ‘toolkit’, which raised doubts on the authenticity of the document.
Speaking to The Quint, Chairman of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) research department and national spokesperson Rajeev Gowda said, ‘someone forged a fake document by editing the genuine Central Vista document, which was prepared by the party’.
The Congress has also written a formal complaint to Twitter, seeking suspension of Twitter accounts of BJP leaders who were “indulging in spreading forged documents attributing to Congress”.
BJP’S Previous Trysts With ‘Manipulated Media’
However, this is not the first time that Patra’s tweet has been marked as “manipulated media” by the platform.
On 31 January 2021, Twitter tagged a video posted by Patra as “manipulated” media, in which he falsely claimed that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had spoken in support of the three controversial farm laws against which the farmers have been protesting.
Earlier in December 2020, Twitter had added a “manipulated media” label to a tweet by BJP IT Cell Head Amit Malviya when he posted a clipped video related to the farmers' protest.
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