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X to withhold certain accounts, posts in India following govt orders


X, formerly known as Twitter, disclosed on Thursday that it will withhold certain accounts and posts in India following executive orders from the Indian government.

“The Indian government has issued executive orders requiring X to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties including significant fines and imprisonment,” Global Government Affairs, an affiliate of X, said in a post on the social networking site.

The company added that it will block these accounts and posts in India, but it disagrees with the actions and maintains that “freedom of expression should extend to these posts.” Moreover, affected users have been informed about the actions taken by the company.

“Due to legal restrictions, we are unable to publish the executive orders, but we believe that making them public is essential for transparency. This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making,” it said.

It further said that a writ appeal challenging the Indian government’s blocking order is pending. It may be recalled that the Karnataka High Court had dismissed X’s plea challenging the Indian government’s orders to block accounts and posts.

It is likely the first time X and the Indian government are at loggerheads since Elon Musk took over the micro-blogging platform. Last year, Musk had hinted at a more cooperative arrangement with local governments, especially in India.

“The rules in India for what can appear on social media are quite strict and we can’t go beyond the laws of the country… If we have a choice of either our people go to prison or we comply with the laws, we will comply with the laws…,” Musk told BBC during an interview when asked about the country banning a documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Before Musk came in, Twitter and the Indian government went head-to-head multiple times over the blocking of content. In some cases, Twitter did not comply with the government directives to blocking accounts and posts. The public spat reached its peak during the farmer protests a few years ago.

Police raided the offices of Twitter India in Delhi and Gurgaon after the social networking platform labelled “manipulated media” to one of tweets by a BJP leader.

Jack Dorsey claimed that India had threatened to shut down the platform if the company did not comply with the government requests.

“It manifested in ways such as: ‘We will shut Twitter down in India’, which is a very large market for us; ‘We will raid the homes of your employees’, which they did; and this is India, a democratic country,” Dorsey said in an interview.

That said, X’s latest disclosure on government requests to block certain posts and accounts comes at a time when farmer protests have resumed in certain parts of the country. The government has not responded to X’s revelations yet.

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