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Business News/ News / India/  Farmers Protest: Centre blocks 177 social media accounts to maintain ‘public order’
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Farmers Protest: Centre blocks 177 social media accounts to maintain ‘public order’

MeitY directs Facebook, Instagram, X, Snap to block 177 accounts and links linked to farmer's protest for public order. Orders issued on Feb 14 and 19, can be restored after protest ends.

Farmers gesture at the police, at the protest site of farmers, who are marching towards New Delhi to press for the better crop prices promised to them in 2021, at Shambhu Barrier, a border crossing between Punjab and Haryana states, India, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis (REUTERS)Premium
Farmers gesture at the police, at the protest site of farmers, who are marching towards New Delhi to press for the better crop prices promised to them in 2021, at Shambhu Barrier, a border crossing between Punjab and Haryana states, India, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis (REUTERS)

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) under the central government has finalised its emergency order directing top social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, X (formerly Twitter) and Snap to block 177 accounts and links related to the farmers' protest in order to maintain 'public order'.

Also Read | 'Not in favour of farmers': Protesting farmers reject Centre's 5-year MSP plan

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, MeitY issued the emergency orders at the behest of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and these were in addition to the final orders issued on 14 February. The report notes that both the blocking orders issued on 14 and 19 February are conditional and have been issued till the duration of the protest, after which the social media companies can restore these accounts and channels.

The HT report notes that the MeitY orders were issued against 35 Facebook links, 35 Facebook accounts, 14 Instagram accounts, 42 X accounts, 49 X links, 1 Snapchat and 1 Reddit account. Notably, while it is common for the government to take down Facebook and X accounts, this is the first time the Centre has issued a blocking order against Snap.

Also Read | Farmers' protest: Samyukta Kisan Morcha calls for agitation against BJP MPs on Feb 21

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Section 69A blocking committee also took place on Monday, with representatives from all of these companies except Reddit appearing. According to the HT report, representatives from Meta and X argued against blocking entire channels, suggesting instead that specific URLs containing the content should be blocked. The committee hit back, saying that allowing these accounts to remain active could lead to public unrest.

Prominent accounts suspended on Monday include the X account of Manoj Singh Duhan of the Unionist Sikh Mission and Facebook pages supporting gangster-turned-politician Lakha Singh Sidhana.

While the total number of accounts and URLs blocked by the 14 February order isn't yet clear, the affected accounts included X profiles of Kisan Ekta Morcha's @kisanektamorcha, @Tractor2twitr, @Tractor2twitr_P run and Progressive Farmers Front's @FarmersFront.

 

 

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Published: 20 Feb 2024, 08:31 AM IST
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