A day after the government issued stern warning to social media companies to follow the country’s laws or face strict action, microblogging platform Twitter has blocked over 97 per cent of the accounts that were flagged by the Centre for spreading misinformation, a report in Times of India said. The government had asked Twitter to block over 1,000 handles in a bid to curb spread of misinformation and inflammatory content around farmers’ protests. Earlier on Wednesday, Twitter said it has suspended over 500 accounts, and blocked access to several others within India as it partly acceded to a government order.
Twitter said it has not blocked accounts consisting of news media entities, journalists, activists and politicians as doing so would violate their fundamental right to free expression guaranteed under the country’s law. The government, however, termed as ‘unusual’ Twitter’s move to publish the blogpost. The TOI report said that of the 1,435 handles, Twitter has now taken down 1,398 handles. The breakthrough was achieved after a meeting between IT Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney and Twitter executives.
Earlier on Thursday, the Centre categorically said in the Rajya Sabha that action will be taken against Social Media platforms if fake news and violence is spread through it. Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said all the social media platforms will have to adhere to the constitution of India. He added that Indian constitution allows criticism of the government and the Prime Minister, but spreading fake news will not be allowed.
“There is freedom of speech but Article 19A says that this is subject to reasonable restrictions,” Prasad said. “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 are misused to spread fake news and violence, then action will be taken on the misuse of social media in India whether Twitter or else,” he added.
Prasad underlined that different parameters can’t be allowed for different countries. “It can’t be different for the Capitol Hill incident and some other parameters and for the Red Fort incident.”