Twitter Says Seeking Dialogue with IT Minister, Safety of Staff Key After Rare Confrontation Over Accounts

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Twitter on Monday said that it has reached out to electronics and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad for a formal talk and it had shared an update with the government after it was sent a notice for not complying with an order to restrict access to some accounts.

The microblogging platform had restored access to 257 accounts it had temporarily blocked after a government order, getting into a confrontation with the ministry, Hindustan Times reported.

Also read: Govt Asks Twitter to Block 1,178 More Accounts With ‘Khalistani’ Links, Unhappy with Founder Taking Sides

The government then sent a notice saying Twitter was not in a position to judge the order and that it was an intermediary liable to follow directions as per the law, which could include penal provisions.

On Thursday, the government has served new notices to Twitter to block 1,178 accounts, suspected to be linked to Khalistan sympathisers or backed by Pakistan over the misuse of the micro-blogging platform regarding farmers’ protest.

“Safety of our employees is a top priority for us at Twitter. We continue to be engaged with the government of India from a position of respect and have reached out to the honourable minister for a formal dialogue. An acknowledgement to the receipt of the non-compliance notice has also been formally communicated,” a spokesperson reportedly said.

Also read: Remove Tweets, Accounts Related to ‘Farmer Genocide’ Hashtag or Face Penal Action, Govt Warns Twitter

It was also indicated that its position on the government’s request has not changed. “We strongly believe that the open and free exchange of information has a positive global impact, and that the Tweets must continue to flow,” the spokesperson added.

The confrontation began over the government order to block accounts which were alluding to the occurrence of a ‘farmer genocide’. The government then asked Twitter to take down 1,178 more accounts linked with ‘Khalistani sympathisers.

Sources earlier said that Twitter is yet to comply with the directions issued under Section 69A of the IT Act. “We review every report we receive from the government as expeditiously as possible, and take appropriate action regarding such reports while making sure we hold firm to our fundamental values and commitment to protecting the public conversation,” the company said.

However, a government official said that no communication had been received so far from Twitter. According to Twitter transparency report released last month, the company has received 2,800 legal demands from January 2020 to June 2020. While the demands were made against 13,200 accounts, the company withheld only 17, while other 1,200 were found violating the rules of Twitter.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s recent decision to like some of the tweets made in support of the farmers protest has not gone down well by the government which feels that the act raises questions over the neutrality of the social media platform.

“If the founder of Twitter is openly taking sides, it does raise question over the neutrality of the platform and how it deals with India’s requests related to the subject,” a top source in the government reportedly said.

Dorsey had liked a few tweets which supported international singer Rihanna’s stand on the farmers’ protest. Dorsey had liked a post by Washington Post journalist Karen Attiah who claimed that ‘Rihanna has the Indian government shook.’

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