The ongoing tussle between the union government and Twitter today appeared approaching a resolution, with the social media giant reportedly complying with the Narendra Modi government’s directive to block nearly 1,500 accounts.
On 12 February, Twitter blocked almost 97% of the accounts mentioned in the two lists that the union government had sent to the company, asking for the suspension of accounts of users who tried to incite passions by claiming the government was planning a genocide of farmers.
The government had sought action against these accounts over inflammatory content being carried by them regarding the ongoing farmers protest in the country.
The IT ministry had stated that the accounts were peddling fake news and inciting violence with a coordinated campaign with a hashtag #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide. The government said that these accounts were run by Khalistan sympathisers and backed by Pakistan.
Media quoted sources as saying that the government had shared a total of 1,435 handles for blocking with Twitter as part of two separate requests. By 11 February, Twitter had blocked 1,398 of these accounts.
The development came a day after the government informed Parliament that it was in the process of amending rules to make social media platforms more accountable to Indian laws and adhere to the Code of Ethics.
The announcement was made after Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Rajya Sabha earlier in the day yesterday that the government was firm on acting against social media platforms if they are misused to spread fake news and incite violence.
“We respect social media a lot, it has empowered common people. Social media has a big role in the Digital India programme. However, if social media is misused to spread fake news and violence, action will be taken,” Prasad said in the upper house.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre, Twitter and others on a plea seeking a mechanism “to check Twitter content and advertisements spreading hatred through fake news and instigative messages through bogus accounts”.