Government vs Twitter

Chris pirillo said that “twitter is a great place to tell the world what you are thinking before you have had a chance to think about it”. However, the government wants to control it. 

India’s Covid-19 rise had eclipsed all superlatives only a few months ago. Hundreds of thousands of people have died because of India’s worst public-health catastrophe in history, which has highlighted the country’s deteriorating healthcare infrastructure. In the midst of the tragedy, while armies of medical personnel and volunteers focused their energies on battling the virus, the administration looked to be concentrating on a different issue. And that issue is TWITTER.

 The initial root of the situation was a tweet sent by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra on May 18. Patra displayed a paper he referred to as a “toolkit” in this tweet, which appears to be an internal Congress document outlining the processes for undermining the BJP’s reaction to the epidemic and increasing publicity of the party’s activities. Days later, the Delhi Police, which reports to the Union government but is not a full-fledged state, paid a visit to Twitter’s headquarters in Delhi and Gurugram, ostensibly to find out why the company opted to put the warning label on Patra’s post. According to local sources, authorities in Uttar Pradesh recently blamed Twitter, along with journalists and opposition party officials, for posting a video that sparked communal strife. The video, which alleged to depict majority Hindus beating a minority Muslim guy, prompted another complaint against Twitter India CEO Manish Maheshwari, according to Delhi police. However, The problematic footage has subsequently been deleted, with no more comment from the firm other than a remark about following local regulations. 

The government has opted to focus on digital image management many times during the epidemic, including the most recent occurrences. Following government demands, Twitter and Facebook pulled down about 100 postings in April. The government’s approach to the epidemic was criticized in several of these tweets.Following the agricultural demonstrations, Twitter agreed to the BJP’s demands to temporarily and permanently restrict 500 accounts, including those of opposition leaders and journalists. The government also forced Twitter to remove several well-known personalities who expressed support for the protestors, like Punjabi musician JazzyB, whose account has 1.2 million followers but can’t be viewed from India, though the firm hasn’t followed through on all of its demands.

Therefore, they not only silence the critical voices but also exposes the corporation to much more pressure to stifle government critics in India and elsewhere. Twitter, a relative newcomer with 17.5 million members, has India as one of its fastest-growing markets. However, its limited reach makes it vulnerable in a country that demonstrated its willingness to outlaw popular foreign services a year ago when it banned TikTok — which had 200 million users in the country — WeChat, and hundreds of other Chinese-made apps following a violent clash on the disputed border. It is critical to political debate in India, and Modi himself is a frequent user with a following of over 69 million people, demonstrating its global reach. While politicians have been outspoken in their criticism of Twitter, none have publicly threatened to abolish it. 

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