The Co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, says that despite being the largest democracy in the world, India frequently demanded that Twitter remove certain posts and accounts, frequently accompanied by threats of legal action if non-compliance.
“India is one of the countries which had many requests around farmers protests, around particular journalists which were critical of the government,” said Dorsey.
Twitter’s Compliance with Indian Government and the Impact on Freedom of Expression
Early in 2021, following legal threats from the Indian government against the US-based social media company, Twitter was required to suspend hundreds of accounts and limit the availability of certain hashtags in India. The majority of the accounts earmarked for suspension, it was reported, were voicing support for farmers’ protests against the recently proposed legislation.
The orders from the Indian government “manifested in ways such as ‘we will shut Twitter down in India’.‘we would raid the homes of your employees’, which they did; ‘we will shut down your offices if you don’t follow suit’. And this is India, a democratic country,” said Dorsey in an interview with Breaking Points.
In the past, Twitter vigorously fought requests from the government to remove posts or suspend accounts. To challenge a number of the implemented block orders on tweets and accounts, the firm famously sued the Indian government.
When it came to complying with India’s recently passed IT regulations, Twitter took longer than its American rivals. According to these regulations, firms must designate and make the contact information public for people in charge of regulatory compliance, a nodal point of contact, and grievance redressal to manage local issues.
A special unit of the Delhi Police made a surprise visit to two of Twitter’s offices in the country in 2021 amid the non-compliance with these new rules. At the time, Twitter expressed its apprehension, stating it was “concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.”
Dorsey’s remarks were refuted by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the federal deputy minister for information technology in India, who claimed that the co-founder of Twitter and former CEO was trying to “brush out that very dubious period of Twitter’s history.”
Twitter under Dorsey and his team “were in repeated and continuous violations of India law,” Chandrasekhar said. They were in non-compliance with the law repeatedly from 2020 to 2022 and it was only June 2022 when they finally complied. No one went to jail nor was Twitter ‘shutdown.’ Dorsey’s Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law.
This is an outright lie by @jack – perhaps an attempt to brush out that very dubious period of twitters history
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) June 13, 2023
“It behaved as if the laws of India did not apply to it. India as a sovereign nation has the right to ensure that its laws are followed by all companies operating in India. During the protests in January 2021, there was a lot of misinformation and even reports of genocide which were definitely fake. The Government of India was obligated to remove misinformation from the platform because it had the potential to further inflame the situation based on fake news.”