Twitter extends commitment to 'restructure' India team: Report
Being slammed by the Indian government for not acting against objectionable content, Twitter has committed to restructure its team in India, a report in Indian Express claimed, citing government officials. Executives from the micro-blogging website gave the assurance during Wednesday's meeting with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). However, when asked about this, Twitter officials refused to comment, the report added.
The United States-based company was told off by the government recently after it restored 257 URLs that posted objectionable content, in connection to the farmers' protests. The government said it hadn't given unblocking orders. Then, on February 4, the government directed Twitter to block 1,178 accounts, allegedly run by Pakistani and Khalistani elements. These accounts threaten the public order, said the Centre.
On Wednesday, before Twitter officials were to meet MeitY's team, the website released a long post, highlighting the actions it took in recent days. But the Indian government found its defense highly "unusual" and later, at the meeting told Twitter that it has to respect Indian laws. The same feeling was reflected by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad yesterday in Parliament.
During the meeting, MeitY officials drew attention to different approaches taken by Twitter with respect to Capitol Hill violence and the episode in New Delhi on Republic Day. While several concerns were raised, MeitY officials expressed the maximum disappointment at Twitter's failure to act against posts that used the term "genocide." To note, several tweets were posted with the hashtag "#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide."
"A term genocide cannot be casually thrown around. Most of the tweets that we flagged (on January 31) to Twitter had a mention of the word along with provocative images, which had nothing to do with India," a senior official told IE.
Another official, who attended the meeting, opined that Twitter can't be the "judge, jury, and executioner of what it thinks its interpretation of the Indian laws is." If Twitter had a problem with government notices, there are redressal mechanisms to address that, the official added. Reportedly, during Wednesday's meeting, Twitter sought to explain why it didn't take requisite action despite the government's notices.
The team from Twitter apprised MeitY that it had taken down 95% of the content and accounts flagged by Centre. It promised to verify and remove the remaining as well. They also spoke about restructuring the team and having more officials in local offices for handling the legal compliance-related matters. MeitY demanded these changes to "better manage communications" between the government and Twitter.