As the coronavirus pandemic burns in India out of control, the government is repressing – on social networks. On Thursday, the Indian government ordered Twitter to block more than 50 tweets criticizing how it handled the pandemic. Twitter has complied with the ban by not allowing people to view messages from people including the state minister, an opposition representative in the Indian parliament, filmmakers, an actor, two journalists and a few ordinary people.
On Saturday, Twitter posted details of the order Lumen database, a Harvard University project that tracks government notifications of liquidations around the world. The news was first reported Indian technology policy site Medianama.
“When we receive a genuine legal request, we process it in accordance with Twitter rules and local law. If the content is violated Twitter Rules, the content will be removed from the service, ”a Twitter spokesman told BuzzFeed News. “If it is defined as illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation Twitter Rules, we can deny access to content only in India. ”The company said it had notified people whose tweets were restricted in India in advance, saying the company was responding to an order from the Indian government.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
One of the limited tweets owned by Moloy Gatak, Minister of the All India Party of Congress Trinamula from West Bengal, where Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi was recently held mass election rallies even though hundreds of thousands of Indians passed a positive COVID-19 test daily.
On Gataka, Twitter criticized Modi for poor pandemic management.
The government has also restricted dozens of tweets criticizing Modi or sharing pictures of India crowded crematoria and hospitals, in addition to a tweet from the Indo-American Muslim Council, based in Washington, a defense organization of Indo-American Muslims. This group is divided Vice History about Kumbh-Mel, a Hindu pilgrimage attended by hundreds of thousands of Indians earlier this month, which turned around into a widespread event.
“While hundreds of thousands of Covid patients are literally breathing, the government’s breath is pressing on Twitter to block tweets that are critical of the crisis, showing that the administration’s moral compass continues to point in a direction that shamelessly serves itself.” The IAMC said in a statement.
BuzzFeed News asked Gatak for comment.
Earlier this year, cases of coronavirus infection in India deteriorated sharply, and most parts of the country resumed normal life. In early March, the Minister of Health of India said that the country found itself in an “endgame” pandemic. But the country is now under threat the second wave caused by a new variant of the virus, religious gatherings and rallies. India currently has the largest number of daily infections in the world and its healthcare system has collapsed. Medical oxygen is lacking, fans are hard to find, and vaccines are lacking. According to Jones Hopkins, India had 346,786 new cases on Friday and 2,624 deaths.
Despite the numbers, Modi has continued holding mass election rallies.
This is not the first time Twitter has complied with orders from the Indian government to censor tweets. In February, the company blocked more than 250 accounts in India that have criticized the government for protesting hundreds of thousands of farmers against new agricultural laws. Afterwards the company hit on with a challengeunlocking the accounts of journalists, activists and politicians despite this prison threats from the Government of India.