The Indian government had asked Twitter to ban several accounts and hashtags which were spreading misinformation. Twitter took action but then reversed it within 12 hours flouting the orders of the Indian administration. Now it can be subjected to a stringent crackdown over its operations in India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Big tech has gone rogue. After the Capitol Hill protests, Donald Trump, the then President of the United States was booted off social media platforms. His Twitter account with more than 70 million followers was permanently banned. Their ideological biases are already on display in India too. They have refused to follow instructions of the Modi government and are helping spread misinformation. Now, it is being said that non-compliance on the part of Twitter within the next 48 hours could invite hard action to be taken against it, which could range from jail time for top executives, or even blocking of the app in the country.
The Indian government on Wednesday warned Twitter to either follow its orders regarding the removal of “inflammatory content” on farmers’ protests or be ready to face jail and financial penalty.
The Indian government in retaliation issued a notice to Twitter. The notice said, “The content was posted on Twitter with #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide hashtag which was factually incorrect. The purpose of this post was to spread hatred only and only among people.”
“It is not freedom of speech to encourage genocide,” it added and warned those who raised objectionable questions on the issue of freedom of expression, calling it “a threat to law and order.”
The Indian government has also warned Twitter of its violation of Indian IT law 69A (3). The law allows the Central Government to block content where it believes that the content threatens the security of the state: the sovereignty, integrity or defence of India.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Minister for Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology and Communications portfolios in the Government of India, further said in the notice, “Twitter is an intermediary and they are obliged to obey directions from the government. Refusal to do so will invite penal action. Twitter cannot sit as an appellate authority. over the satisfaction of the authorities about its potential impact on derailing public order.”
The action, under the IT Act Section 69A (3), could result in up to seven years of jail for senior Twitter India officials, and a financial penalty on the firm.
Twitter’s policies are biased, and the Indian government under Modi is deliberating to take action on a rogue social media giant with clear political leanings. Twitter had blocked President Donald Trump’s personal account after the US Capitol Hill violence, but it refuses to take action on the people who spread misinformation on the incidents that took place near the Red Fort in New Delhi on January 26 – the Indian Republic Day.
Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, holds a clear contempt against the right-wing Indian administration. He has been liking tweets that support the farmers’ protests in India. These are the same protests which have cost India a loss of more than $10 billion. The same protests which led to destruction and chaos on the streets of New Delhi. And, the same protests which led to the loss of lives and property.
Oh look. The giver of blue ticks. The upholder of free speech. And the guy who deleted President Trump, the world's biggest political leader on Twitter at the time. He's one of those who have a wild card against democracy & now he is looking at India, and Modi. pic.twitter.com/gZSSAXU7yl
— Shubhangi Sharma (@ItsShubhangi) February 3, 2021
Twitter is in a fix now. The only option left for it now is to follow the directives put up by the Indian government. Twitter being an intermediary, is bound by the provisions of the Indian law to comply with directives provided by the Modi government and any refusal to do so will attract punishment. Its chaotic actions in the US has put it under intense scrutiny and has worried the Indian administrators. However, its failure to comply with the directives has given the Indian government the power to act stringently and it might just do so soon.