Twitter has locked the account of the Indian National Congress, the country’s primary opposition party to the ruling BJP-led government, over a tweet which the company said violated its rules against posting private information of individuals without their express consent.
This comes just days after the social media platform had locked the account of Rahul Gandhi, the party’s main face, for sharing an image that showed the parents of a nine-year-old dalit girl who was allegedly raped and murdered in Delhi’s cantonment area earlier this month.
In the tweet flagged by the social media platform, the Congress’ official handle @INCIndia had on August 8 shared a screenshot of Gandhi’s same tweet that was flagged by Twitter and “challenged” the company to lock its account.
Rohan Gupta, the social media head of the All India Congress Committee, confirmed to Entrackr that his party’s Twitter account has been locked.
Congress also shared an image on Instagram, of Twitter’s action against its account.
Responding to our queries on locking Congress’ account, a Twitter spokesperson said that the company has taken action on several hundred tweets that posted an image that violated its rules, and may continue to do so.
“Certain types of private information carry higher risks than others, and our aim is always to protect individuals’ privacy and safety,” the spokesperson added.
Aside from these two handles, many other handles of prominent Congress leaders have been locked by the company for the same reason. These include the accounts of Sushmita Dev, the President of All India Mahila Congress; Ajay Maken, the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee; and the Mumbai Congress, among others.
All these handles had shared the contentious image of Gandhi along with the dalit victim’s family.
Twitter had taken action on Gandhi’s account after a directive from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). In a letter to the company, the organisation had said that Gandhi’s tweet violated the Juvenile Justice Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The NCPCR had also filed a case in the Delhi High Court against Rahul Gandhi for revealing the identity of the victim’s family. During a hearing in the case on Wednesday, the company had informed the court that it removed Gandhi’s tweet and temporarily locked his account.
Twitter’s policy against posting private information of individuals prohibits users from publishing other people’s private information without their express authorisation and permission. The company also prohibits tweets that threaten to expose private information.
First time offenders of this Twitter policy will have their accounts locked, Twitter says. However, if a user violates the policy again after the first warning, their account will be permanently suspended.
While the action by Twitter seems prima facie justified, there is also an element of controversy, considering the extended tussle between the firm and the government over its interpretation and adherence to India’s IT rules. In a polarised political environment, every action against a leader of the opposition is bound to be scrutinised for any government influence.
Interestingly, all through the accusations and counterclaims during the face-off between Twitter and the government, Rahul Gandhi had remained quiet, indicating a degree of support in the BJP’s eyes, for the social media giant, until then, also accused of being soft on anti-government voices.