Twitter and other social media platforms removed about 100 posts and URLs after the government asked them to remove content that was critical to tackling the current medical crisis or spreading fake news about the pandemic.
Sources claim that the companies complied with the order. However, it was not immediately known what the removed posts were.
Meanwhile, government sources said the Ministry of Information Technology, on the recommendation of the Interior Ministry, had asked social media platforms to remove posts and URLs (unified resource locators) to “prevent obstacles to fighting the pandemic” and disturbing public order due to the mentioned posts.
They added that the order was issued in view of the misuse of social media platforms by certain users to spread false or misleading information and create panic about the pandemic in society “by using unrelated, old and out of context images or visual images, communal sensitive publications and misinformation about COVID-19 protocols ”.
Although reports suggest that posts criticizing the state’s handling of the medical crisis have been asked to be removed, sources say the government is open to criticism and suggestions in the collective fight against COVID-19.
However, they said that action was needed against those users who “abused” social media during this severe humanitarian crisis for unethical purposes.
Twitter has removed or restricted access to more than 50 posts in the past month on government orders, including tweets criticizing its behavior against the coronavirus pandemic. Other removed posts featured photos and videos of a recent Maoist attack in Chatisgarh.
Earlier this year, more than 500 accounts were suspended and access to hundreds of others in India was blocked after the government ordered the microblogging platform to limit the spread of misinformation and inflammatory content related to farmers’ protests.
India records a record number of COVID cases daily. The number of new infections with COVID reached 3.49,691 cases and 2,767 deaths, according to data from the Union Ministry of Health, updated on Sunday at 8 p.m.
A Twitter spokesman said that when he received a valid legal request, he reviewed it under both Twitter rules and local law.
“If the content violates the rules of Twitter, the content will be removed from the service. If it is found to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of Twitter’s policies, we may deny access to the content only in India. The legal requests we receive are described in detail in Twitter’s biennial transparency report, and content retention requests are published in Lumen, “the spokesman said.
Reports citing the Lumen database (an independent research project examining termination and abstinence from letters on online content) suggest that more than 50 publications – including by MP, MLA and directors – have been removed from Twitter at the request of the government.
The microblogging platform emphasized that it is committed to the principles of openness and transparency and that it tackles misinformation on the basis of the highest potential for harm.
He noted that he handles COVID-19 misinformation using a combination of product, technology and human review.