Days after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) reached out to Twitter with a second list of accounts to be blocked, the social media platform in a blog post on Wednesday said that it has taken action against more than 500 accounts.
This includes the permanent suspension of some accounts for violating Twitter Rules.
The blog post also said that on Wednesday, some of the accounts and tweets listed by MeitY were blocked from viewing in India under its ‘Country Withheld Content Policy’.
The Twitter policy under this head says, “..if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time. Such withholdings will be limited to the specific jurisdiction that has issued the valid legal demand or where the content has been found to violate local law(s).”
The blog post said that the accounts withheld in India continue to be available outside of the jurisdiction.
“Because we do not believe that the actions we have been directed to take are consistent with Indian law, and, in keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians,” said the blog post.
It further added that the social media platform had apprised MeitY of its actions on February 10.
“We will continue to maintain dialogue with the Indian government and respectfully engage with them,” said the post.
To be clear, India is among the top three key markets for Twitter, outside the US, according to data available in the public domain. While discussing the Q4 earnings of the social media platform on an earnings call, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that 80% of the platform’s audience was outside the United States.
MeitY had first reached out to Twitter on January 30 to suspend over 250 Tweets and Twitter accounts for promoting the hashtag, #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide, in relation to the ongoing farmer protests. After blocking these for some time, Twitter restored some of the accounts and tweets within a day, drawing a non-compliance notice from the government, confirmed the blog post.
MeitY in its notice threatened penal action against Twitter for violating the intermediary rules, which binds all social media platforms in the country.
On February 4, MeitY again asked Twitter to block 1,117 accounts under the Section 69A of Information Technology Act claiming that these accounts were linked to suspected terror agencies.
Twitter’s director for public policy in India has also resigned from her post though the company said that it was independent of the ongoing dialogue with the government.