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The Indian police just showed up at Twitter offices in Delhi

The Indian government and the social media giant have clashed once again. This time, the police got involved

One among the countless messages in Twitter calling for help in the face of the pandemic in India.
One among the countless messages in Twitter calling for help in the face of the pandemic in India. The Indian government and social media platform have clashed once again.
Altaf Qadri, Associated Press

Tensions flared between the social media giant and the Indian government over Twitter’s use of “manipulated media” tags on tweets by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The government’s IT ministry sent a letter to Twitter on Friday asking for the tag to be removed, reports CNN and BuzzFeed News. Twitter did not comply.

A Twitter spokesperson told The Hill the company stands by its labeling of the tweet, saying the tweet violated the company's global synthetic and manipulated media policies.

Why did the police show up at Twitter’s offices?

On May 18, the spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata tweeted a photo of an instruction guide, supposedly created by the opposition party, the Indian National Congress, that gave advice on criticizing the government’s — and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s — handling of the pandemic. Party officials tweet called the instruction guide a publicity stunt, reported CNN.

The Congress complained to Twitter and to the police that the photo was forged. Twitter labeled the tweets accordingly with the “manipulated media” tag, reports CNN.

  • Twitter refused to remove the tag when ordered by the Indian government to do so on Friday, reports BBC.

Monday evening, Delhi police from the Special Cell unit, an elite branch of officers who investigate terrorism and organized crime, showed up at Twitter’s national headquarters, per BuzzFeed News. The police say they showed up after issuing a notice to India Twitter’s managing director and receiving ambiguous responses, CNN reported.

  • According to Twitter’s guidelines, the “manipulated media” tag is applied if tweets include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated,” reports BBC.

Longer issues between Twitter and the Indian government

The most recent dispute follows a series of issues between the social media giant and the Indian government. This year, the Indian government has cracked down on online dissent, raising difficult questions about censorship for social media platforms, reports CNN.

Now, Twitter has until the end of the month to comply with new, stricter regulations issued earlier this year, CNN reports.