Indian government censors tweets criticizing Indian internet censorship
In 2021, the Indian government ordered Twitter to remove tweets from the non-profit organization Freedom House that discussed the decline of internet freedom in India. Twitter did not disclose this request until Sunday. The tweets promote Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2021 report. Coach reviewed a copy of the disclosure by Twitter. This content is no longer visible in India, but much of it remains available on Twitter in other countries.
“People were arrested for questioning government policies online, while connectivity restrictions from August 2019 continued in Indian Kashmir,” reads the text in an image accompanying one of the tweets. of Freedom House. The tweets all use a version of the world map with India’s border disputes, a possible reason they were singled out for compliance.
Other content blocked by Twitter in India includes an April 2021 tweet by Rana Ayyub, a series of political handles claiming to represent the Indian National Congress, official government and diplomatic accounts belonging to Pakistan, a handle belonging to the London writer Farid Qureshi, and several accounts that spoke about the farmers’ protests last year.
Twitter does not appear to have complied with some of the requests it has received; disclosure accessible by Coach only shows tweets and accounts that Twitter has actually withheld in India.
For example, the account of Mohammed Zubair, whose tweets on the controversy over the BJP spokesperson’s remarks on Muhammad were among the most impactful, was ordered not to be disclosed in India by the Indian government. However, Twitter said to Zubair earlier this month that he would not comply with the request. As such, government requests may be much broader in scope than the disclosure indicates.
Interestingly, Twitter says these content removal requests came in 24 batches, but only disclosed (and apparently enforced) these requests on Sunday.