Twitter said on Tuesday it would not fully comply with orders from India’s Modi government to take down some accounts of Pakistan. It said it does not believe the orders are consistent with Indian law.
It has permanently suspended some accounts but for others, it has only restricted access within India. The tweets can still be read outside the country.
The US social media giant has found itself in a heated no-win row with Modi’s administration. It wants it to take down more than 1,100 accounts and posts. India argues they are spreading misinformation about months-long farmers’ protests.
Some accounts, the government said, are backed by Pakistan or are operated by supporters of a separatist Sikh movement.
The government has played hardball, sending Twitter a notice of non-compliance last week. It threatens its executives with jail terms of up to seven years and the company with fines if it does not block the content.
Twitter said it had suspended more than 500 accounts that were engaging in clear examples of platform manipulation and spam. It had also taken action on hundreds of others that breached its rules regarding violence and abuse.
Others were geo-blocked, although Twitter did not go into detail on how it made decisions on which accounts to restrict.
“These accounts continue to be available outside of India,” Twitter said. “Because we do not believe that the actions we have been directed to take are consistent with Indian law.”
Freedom of expression
India had also asked Twitter to restrict access to news accounts. It argues that the “freedom of press does not include freedom to spread misinformation.”
Twitter said it had not taken action on accounts run by journalists, news media, activists, and politicians.
“To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law,” Twitter said.
Twitter has been seeking talks with India’s technology minister. A ministry source said that the request has been declined. The company has been advised to seek a meeting with the top ministry official instead.
India’s technology ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitter has also said it is exploring its options under Indian law.
Tens of thousands of farmers have camped on the outskirts of New Delhi for months demanding the withdrawal of new agriculture laws they say benefit private buyers at the expense of growers. The government says the reforms open up new opportunities for farmers.
US pop superstar Rihanna recently created a flutter in India by wading into farmer protests against Modi’s agricultural reforms. Soon more international celebs joined her voice. The country hated it.
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