The Uttar Pradesh police on Monday have summoned Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari and Resident Grievance Officer Dharmendra Chatur in connection to a video clip of the assault of an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad. Maheshwari had agreed to speak to authorities via video call.
The Ghaziabad police had sent a notice to the officials asking them to report at Loni Border police station on Thursday at 10.30 am. “You couldn’t remove certain tweets even after you were asked to by authorities. You understand Indian laws and are bound to follow them,” the notice was quoted as saying.
Twitter has “withheld” 50 tweets related to a communally sensitive video clip of an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh on the microblogging platform. According to information on the Lumen database, Twitter received a legal request from the Indian government on June 17 for actioning 50 tweets. These tweets have been withheld and the content could not be independently verified.
Upon clicking on the blocked URLs listed on Lumen database, a message saying the tweet has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand is displayed. According to sources, these tweets contained content related to the said video clip.
When contacted, a Twitter spokesperson told PTI, “As explained in our Country Withheld Policy, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in response to a valid legal demand or when the content has been found to violate local law(s).” The spokesperson noted that the withholdings are limited to the specific jurisdiction/country where the content is determined to be illegal. The account holder is notified directly – by sending a message to the e-mail address associated with the account(s), if available – so that the user is aware that Twitter has received a legal order pertaining to the account. The legal requests that we receive are detailed in the biannual Twitter Transparency Report, and requests to withhold content are published on Lumen, the spokesperson added.
Requests received by Twitter for withholding content are published on Lumen database – an independent research project studying cease and desist letters concerning online content. The Ghaziabad police have booked Twitter and six people for circulating a video that claimed to have the elderly Muslim man saying he was allegedly thrashed and asked to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Police say this was done to create communal unrest.
Twitter has drawn flak for failure to fully comply with the new IT rules, which mandates among other requirements, the appointment of three key personnel – chief compliance officer, nodal officer and grievance officer by social media platforms with over 50 lakh users. All the three personnel have to be resident in India. While the rules came into effect on May 26, Twitter is yet to adhere to the social media guidelines, despite repeated reminders from the government.
The government, last week, had slammed Twitter for deliberate defiance and failure to comply with the IT rules, which has led to the US giant losing its intermediary status in India and becoming liable for users posting any unlawful content. Twitter and the government have been at loggerheads over multiple instances in the past months, including during the farmers’ protest and later when the microblogging platform tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as “manipulated media”, triggering a sharp rebuke from the Centre.
Twitter has an estimated 1.75 crore users in India, as per data cited by the government recently. Earlier this month, Twitter had blocked accounts of Punjabi rapper JazzyB, Sydney-based hip-hop artist L-Fresh the Lion and two others following demands by the Indian government.
Earlier this year, more than 500 accounts were suspended and access to hundreds of others in India blocked after the government ordered the microblogging platform to restrain the spread of misinformation and inflammatory content related to farmers’ protests.
(With PTI inputs)