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The BJP’s war on Twitter: How the new social media laws endanger free speech

Hate speech is allowed to run wild while any criticism of the government is silenced

The BJP’s war on Twitter: How the new social media laws endanger free speech

Hate speech is allowed to run wild while any criticism of the government is silenced

The BJP’s war on Twitter: How the new social media laws endanger free speech

Hate speech is allowed to run wild while any criticism of the government is silenced

The BJP’s war on Twitter: How the new social media laws endanger free speech

Hate speech is allowed to run wild while any criticism of the government is silenced

Twitter is under attack from the Indian government.

There are few companies powerful enough to stand up to Narendra Modi, but social media giant Twitter is one of them. A few weeks ago, the social media giant stood its ground and refused to block the accounts of a number of politicians, activists, and journalists who were speaking out against government policy regarding the farmers’ protests.

The government had submitted a government order calling for these accounts to be withheld on the grounds that their tweets were inciting violence and encouraging the breakdown of law and order during the farmers’ protests. Some accounts were blocked for several hours – including The Caravan, an independent magazine, and Kisan Ekta Morcha, a group representing the protesting farmers – but then restored.

To be clear, they were not spreading hate speech or inciting violence; they were simply sharing their views on the protests and reporting what was going on.

After restoring the accounts, and refusing to block others that the government demanded should be silenced, Twitter issued a statement:

“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.”

The government reiterated its demands, and then threatened Twitter representatives with legal action. For them, it’s about free speech. For the government, it’s about control.

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