India gov’t orders Twitter to remove tweets critical of its COVID-19 response

The government of India has ordered Twitter to remove a number of posts from the platform which it claims are inciting panic. This as the country grapples with the surge in coronavirus cases, with many of its hospitals running out of oxygen.

In a statement Sunday, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said it had asked TwitterFacebook and others to remove around 100 posts in total.

This it said was because “of the misuse of social media platforms by certain users to spread fake or misleading information.”It accused those users of creating “panic” about the latest Covid-19 “using unrelated, old and out of the context images or visuals, communally sensitive posts and misinformation about Covid-19 protocols.”

The statement, which included screengrabs of blocked posts from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, said that some of these accounts were urging citizens not to wear a mask, or creating hatred “by inciting religious passions.”

However, the government’s action fuelled the angry of many Indians who again took to social media to voice it.

In response to the backlash, Twitter s said it reviewed content when it received a “valid legal request”. I this case, the Indian government is said to have cited the Information Technology Act 2000.

“If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of the Twitter Rules, we may withhold access to the content in India only,” the platform said.