Responding to Indian government notice, Twitter on Wednesday said: We are exploring options under Indian law — both for Twitter and for the accounts that have been impacted.
In the open letter, the company also pointed out the actions it had taken since Jan 26. It stated: Beginning on 26 January 2021, our global team provided 24/7 coverage and took enforcement action judiciously and impartially on content, Trends, Tweets, and accounts that were in violation of the Twitter Rules — our global policy framework that governs every Tweet on the service.
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Explaining the actions that the company has taken, it said:
1: Took action on hundreds of accounts that violated the Twitter Rules, particularly inciting violence, abuse, wishes of harm, and threats that could trigger the risk of offline harm
2: Prevented certain terms that violated our Rules from appearing in the Trends section
3: Suspended more than 500 accounts that were engaging in clear examples of platform manipulation and spam
4: Tackled misinformation based on the highest potential for real-world harm, and prioritized labeling of Tweets that were in violation of our synthetic and manipulated media policy.
Responding to India government’s allegation, it said: Over the course of the last 10 days, Twitter has been served with several separate blocking orders by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
Out of these, two were emergency blocking orders that we temporarily complied with but subsequently restored access to the content in a manner that we believe was consistent with Indian law. After we communicated this to MeitY, we were served with a non-compliance notice. To set the record straight, here is a list of actions we have taken as a result of these blocking orders:
1) We took steps to reduce the visibility of the hashtags containing harmful content, which included prohibiting them from trending on Twitter and appearing as recommended search terms.
2) We took a range of enforcement actions — including permanent suspension in certain cases — against more than 500 accounts escalated across all MeitY orders for clear violations of Twitter’s Rules.
3) 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. 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.
Twitter also said: It will continue to maintain dialogue with the Indian government and respectfully engage with them. Also, it said it would try to work as per Indian laws and stated, “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.”