Should social media be free from any external influence? Should the government be able to control the information about its country that is posted on social media? It seems India is trying hard to control and censor social media platforms. The government has butted heads with Twitter many times in the past. Now even the police have descended upon the Twitter offices in Dehli.
The news came on Monday when a team of officers from the Special Cell walked up to the Twitter offices in Delhi to serve a notice to the head of Twitter in India. The police also tried to enter a Twitter office in Gurugram. The location has been permanently closed since. It seems the Indian government has warned the head of Twitter India enough and has decided to take its measures to the next step.
The police action comes three days after many tweets by the members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party were labeled as “manipulated media” by the social media platform. The tweet’s contents included accusations on the Indian National Congress which is the main opposition part of the country. The tweets accused the opposition of scheming to damage the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for his handling of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
India has been suffering greatly under the pandemic with funeral pyres of the causalities being lit all across the country. But it seems the government is trying hard to censor information about the actual numbers and situation on social media. You can look at the ‘manipulated media’ tweet below.
The tweets by the members of the ruling party came with images of a letterhead, the ruling party used the letterhead to claim that the Indian National Congress was giving special medical favors to journalists affected by the pandemic among other things. They claimed that the INC had a special COVID toolkit. However, AltNews, an Indian fact-checking website, found that the letterhead was forged. Congress has also filed a police complaint against Sambit Patra, the BJP spokesperson who initially shared the image.
This explains the “manipulated media” labels that Twitter put on the member’s tweets. On Friday, India’s IT ministry sent a letter to the company asking it to remove the labels. However, Twitter did not comply. Sources in the Delhi Police say that they went to Twitter’s office after they received “ambiguous replies” from Twitter India’s managing director, Manish Maheshwari.
It’s unclear if the police managed to enter the offices or not. We’ll continue to see how the situation evolves between the social media platform and the government.