Complying with a new legal request by the Indian government, microblogging platform Twitter has now restricted four accounts, including one belonging to Canadian-Punjabi singer Jazzy B, in India.
Jazzy B has been frequently tweeting in support of the farmers’ protest against the controversial farm laws.
The accounts of California Sikh Youth Alliance, hip-hop artist L-Fresh the Lion, singers and songwriters Jazzy B and Tarandeep Guraya have been 'geo-restricted, which means that Twitter has restricted their IP addresses and these accounts can only be accessed outside the country.
As per a technology website, TechCrunch, all four accounts had protested New Delhi’s agriculture reforms and some had posted tweets that criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seven years of governance.
The lumen database – an online archive that analyses legal complaints and requests for removal of content revealed that the legal request of suspending the accounts had directly come from the Indian government.
Withheld Access Only in India: Twitter
The new legal request comes when Twitter has sought more time from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to comply with the new IT Rules.
The microblogging platform said that every effort was being made to comply with the new guidelines. But because of the pandemic, it has been unable to ensure full compliance, a source told PTI.
A Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch that when the company receives a valid legal request, it reviews it under its own rules and the local laws.
“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 only in that area. In all cases, we notify the account holder directly so that they’re aware that we’d received a legal order pertaining to the account,” the spokesperson added.
Twitter Drops Blue Tick
Twitter on Saturday, 5 June, removed the blue tick badge from the personal handle of Vice -President Venkaiah Naidu, before restoring it sometime later.
"The personal account of Venkaiah Naidu was inactive for six months and the blue badge is gone," an official from the Vice-President's office was quoted as saying by news agency ANI before it was restored.
The last tweet from Naidu's personal account was posted on 23 July 2020. Meanwhile, the Vice-President's official account is active and tweets regularly.
Meanwhile, a Twitter spokesperson told ANI that the said account had been inactive since July 2020 and as per the social media giant’s verification policy, “Twitter may remove the blue verified badge and verified status if the account becomes inactive. The badge has been restored.”
Further, the accounts of some of the prominent leaders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which were reportedly verified before, did not have a “verified” badge anymore. They include Mohan Bhagwat, Suresh Joshi, Suresh Soni, Krishna Gopal and Arun Kumar.
Later in the day, however, the blue verification badge of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and other RSS key functionaries, including Krishna Gopal, was restored.
Centre Asks Twitter to Block 1,178 ‘Khalistanis’
Earlier, in February the central government had allegedly asked social media platform Twitter to remove more than a thousand accounts for spreading misinformation and ‘anti-national’ content amid the ongoing farmers’ protests, reported NDTV.
Sources told NDTV that the Government of India had asked Twitter to remove as many as 1,178 accounts that have ‘Pakistani and Khalistani users’ involved.
On 1 February, 257 accounts were ‘withheld because of a legal demand’ from the MeitYand remained unavailable in India for most of the day.
They were subsequently restored by Twitter, which pushed back against the blocking demand in a discussion with the government on 1 February.