“Twitter is free to formulate its own rules and guidelines. But Indian laws which are enacted by the Parliament of India must be followed irrespective of Twitter’s own rules and guidelines,” the government said
New Delhi: The government rebuked Twitter on Wednesday for not complying with its orders to take down over 1,300 accounts and warned the social media giant that it needs to obey local laws. Several BJP leaders doubled down on the message as they urged their followers to switch to Twitter’s home-grown rival Koo. The government has ordered Twitter to remove accounts and posts that it alleges are spreading misinformation about the farmers’ protests against new agricultural laws. Twitter said in a public blog post that it had not fully complied with the government’s order because it believed some of the blocking orders were not consistent with Indian law.
Here’s your 10-point cheat sheet to this big story:
- The IT Ministry, via a post on rival platform Koo, said on Wednesday that its Secretary Ajay Sawhney had in a meeting with Twitter executives expressed “strong displeasure” with Twitter’s actions.
- “Twitter is free to formulate its own rules and guidelines. But Indian laws which are enacted by the Parliament of India must be followed irrespective of Twitter’s own rules and guidelines.”
- The IT secretary expressed his deep disappointment over the manner in which the company had “unwillingly, grudgingly and with great delay” complied with only parts of the orders, the government statement said.
- Twitter had earlier said in its blog: “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.”
- Twitter also said following government orders it permanently suspended over 500 accounts for engaging in platform manipulation and spam. For many others, it only restricted access within India and their tweets can still be read abroad.
- The government has previously threatened legal action which could result in fines or imprisonment for Twitter executives responsible for implementing government directives. It also comes after Twitter’s top lobbyist in India, Mahima Kaul, resigned while the company scrambles to contain a growing public relations crisis.
- In the row, several BJP leaders launched an offensive against Twitter and also joined Koo, pitched as Twitter’s rival in India, launched last year.
- #kooapp was the top Twitter trend in India on Wednesday with nearly 21,000 posts, followed by #BanTwitter. Union Minister Piyush Goyal was among several ministers and leaders who posted tweets saying “I am now on Koo”.
- Koo, which has a yellow bird as its logo, said downloads have surged 10-fold in the past two days to over 3 million.”
- The last 48 hours has seen the largest number of sign-ups,” Koo’s co-founder Mayank Bidawatka told Reuters. “I’ve slept for two hours in last few days.”