Home / Companies / News /  Govt-Twitter row: MeitY says Twitter’s Freedom of Expression blog post unusual

NEW DELHI: Hours after Twitter published a range of enforcement actions it has undertaken regarding controversial posts and accounts related to farmers' protests, the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) on Wednesday said the social media major’s blog post was "unusual".

"Upon the request of Twitter seeking a meeting with the Govt., the Secretary IT was to engage with senior management of Twitter. In this light a blog post published prior to this engagement is unusual. Govt. will share its response soon," MeitY said on homegrown microblogging platform Koo.

Also Read | Inside the third front of the farm agitation

Earlier today, Twitter said it has taken action against some accounts identified by the government but asserted that no action was taken against those belonging news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians as it believes that doing so "would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law".

Twitter's blog post comes a week after MeitY issued a notice to the social media platform, accusing it of unilaterally unblocking more than 250 accounts that had been suspended over farmers’ agitation around 26 January. The government had said the social media giant could face penal action for non-compliance. Twitter had restored the accounts, after briefly blocking them, as per company policy, which, it said, favours free speech.

The blog post said that the social media platform has taken steps to reduce the visibility of hashtags containing harmful content, which included prohibiting them from trending on Twitter and appearing as recommended search terms.

"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. To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law" the blog post said.

“We will continue to advocate for the right of free expression on behalf of the people we serve. We are exploring options under Indian law — both for Twitter and for the accounts that have been impacted. We remain committed to safeguarding the health of the conversation occurring on Twitter, and strongly believe that the Tweets should flow."

Twitter added that it has taken a range of enforcement actions, such as permanent suspension of accounts in certain cases--against more than 500 accounts escalated across all MeitY orders for clear violations of Twitter’s Rules. “Separately, today, we have withheld a portion of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under our Country Withheld Content policy within India only. These accounts continue to be available outside of India."

“We informed MeitY of our enforcement actions today, February 10, 2021. We will continue to maintain dialogue with the Indian government and respectfully engage with them," Twitter said.

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