Twitter India on Saturday removed select tweets of West Bengal labour and law Minister Moloy Ghatak, filmmakers Avinash Das and Vinod Kapri, actor Vineet Kumar Singh, and Member of Parliament Revanth Reddy, after the Centre’s orders as they were found to be criticising the Central government.
While none of the accounts are frozen, certain tweets with #COVID19 and #IndianLivesMatter that were found to be criticising the government’s way of handling the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, were removed. The government had directed Twitter to take action on the grounds that the specified tweets violated India’s IT Act 2000.
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) April 24, 2021
As per Lumendatabase.org, a platform that analyses legal complaints and requests for removal of online materials, complaints were filed as per the Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. All the tweets removed highlighted the helpless situation in the country ranging from the second wave and the spike in daily Covid-19 cases, reduced oxygen and vaccine supply and a manifold increase in their demand, to name a few.
Consequently, states like Maharashtra have declared a lockdown, while others have imposed night curfew and weekend lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.
Several public figures took to social media to share and exchange contacts of oxygen suppliers and the availability of vaccines, while calling out the Centre for its failure to deal with the situation.
Ghatak had tweeted that India would never “forgive” the Prime Minister for “underplaying the seriousness of the pandemic”, while Reddy of Malkajgiri, in Telangana, echoed a similar tone highlighting India’s daily cases count crossing 2,00,000.
Social media began brimming with criticism of the Centre’s discriminatory attitude towards Indian Muslims after hundreds of Hindu pilgrims were allowed to congregate without any safety protocols in Kumbh Mela, considered to be a major accelerator of the spread of the infection.
Journalist Pieter Friedrich shared a post where he received a mail from Twitter stating that his post was withheld after receiving “official correspondence from the Government of India”.
— Pieter Friedrich (@FriedrichPieter) April 23, 2021
Twitter India’s notice explained that their goal was to “respect user expression”.
“In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time. Such withholdings will be limited to the specific jurisdiction that has issued the valid legal demand or where the content has been found to violate local law(s)”, they said responding to the removal of tweets.