On Wednesday, India reprimanded Twitter for disobeying orders to remove certain content and warned the social media giant that it must obey local laws, even as Indian lawmakers urged their followers to switch to domestic rival Koo.
India has ordered Twitter to remove more than 1,100 accounts and publications that are said to spread misinformation about widespread protests by Indian farmers against the new agricultural laws.
Twitter annoyed the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi the government earlier Wednesday after it made public blog post that it had not fully complied with the Government’s order because it considered that some of the removal orders were not in accordance with Indian law.
“In accordance with our principles for the protection of protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts consisting of news media, journalists, activists and politicians,” it said.
Indian Ministry of Information Technology through publication on a competitive platform Ku, said late Wednesday that her senior official had spoken to some of Twitter’s top executives, expressing “strong dissatisfaction” with Twitter’s actions.
“Twitter is free to formulate its own rules and guidelines,” the government said. “But Indian laws passed by the Indian parliament must be obeyed regardless of Twitter’s own rules and guidelines.”
The information technology secretary expressed his deep disappointment at the way the company “inadvertently, dissatisfied and belatedly” complied with only parts of government orders, the government statement added.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment at the meeting with the IT ministry.
Twitter’s moves to oppose India’s orders have put the company and its executives at the center of a political storm. Previously, New Delhi threatened legal action that could result in fines or imprisonment for Twitter executives responsible for enforcing government directives.
He also comes after India’s top Twitter lobbyist, Mahima Kaul, resigned while the company tries to curb the growing public relations crisis.
Public opinion in one of Twitter’s key markets is divided. Some lawyers say Twitter must comply with or challenge the order in court, while activists accuse the government of using legal provisions to restrict free speech.
I’m on Koo!
Earlier on Wednesday, Twitter said it had permanently suspended more than 500 accounts for platform manipulation and spam following a government order. For many others, it restricts access to India only and their tweets can still be read abroad.
For Twitter, the stakes are high in India, where it had 17.5 million users last month, according to German database firm Statista. He is also hotly used by Modi, his cabinet ministers and other leaders to communicate with the public.
As the order affects Twitter, many Indian politicians and users join Twitter-based home social media platform Koo, which launched last year.
#kooapp was the most popular trend on Twitter in India on Wednesday with nearly 21,000 posts, followed by #BanTwitter.
Twitter declined to comment on some users migrating to Koo.
Several people on Twitter, including Trade Minister Piyush Goyal, tweeted this week, saying “I’m on Koo now.” Goyal, who has 9.6 million followers on Twitter, has a fixed tweet asking people to contact him on the competing Indian platform.
Sambit Patra, a national spokesman for Modi’s ruling party, and its IT leader Amit Malvia also joined Koo on Wednesday.
Koo, whose logo is a yellow bird, said downloads increased 10 times in the last two days to over 3 million.
“The most registrations have been registered in the last 48 hours,” Koo co-founder Mayank Bidawatka told Reuters. “I’ve slept for two hours in the last few days.”
© Thomson Reuters 2021
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