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.
- Monday night, the Indian police showed up at Twitter’s national headquarters in Delhi to investigate the issue, CNN reports. It’s unclear if the police entered the offices, according to BuzzFeed News.
- Twitter has clashed with the Indian government numerous times the last few months, BuzzFeed News reports.
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.
- 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.
- In February, the government ordered Twitter to block accounts linked to the farmers protests against agricultural reforms, even threatening to jail Twitter officials if the company did not comply. according to CNN. Twitter took down some accounts but refused to censor the accounts of journalists, activists or politicians, CNN reports.
- In April, after being ordered to do so, Twitter removed multiple tweets that criticized Prime Minister Modi’s handling of the pandemic, BBC reports.
Now, Twitter has until the end of the month to comply with new, stricter regulations issued earlier this year, CNN reports.