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India, Turkey, Nigeria threatened to shut down Twitter, founder says


Active member
By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Twitter was threatened with shut down in India, Nigeria and Turkey unless it complied with orders to restrict accounts, with India wanting to curb journalists' and protesters' use of the social media platform, co-founder Jack Dorsey said on Monday.

Dorsey quit his Twitter CEO role in 2021 and the social media platform was purchased by billionaire Elon Musk in 2022.

"India for example, India is a country that had many requests of us around the farmers protest, around particular journalists that were critical of the government," Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, said in an interview to YouTube news show Breaking Points.

Indian farmers ended a year of protests in late 2021 after winning concessions from the government regarding certain farm laws. The demonstrations were among the biggest faced by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"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; 'we will shut down your offices if you don't follow suit.' And this is India, a democratic country," Dorsey added.
Although Dorsey stepped down as CEO in 2021, his comments relating to the 2021 incident resurface the strained relationship between Twitter and the Indian government.

In 2021, Twitter complied with the Indian government’s orders to remove anti-government content during the farmers’ protests. It later restored most of the censored accounts, citing “insufficient justification.” In May of that year, the police raided Twitter’s office after the company labeled a tweet by Modi’s party spokesman as “manipulated media.”

In July 2022, it was reported that Twitter had filed a lawsuit against the Indian government in the southern state of Karnataka after it allegedly threatened company executives with criminal action if they failed to comply with takedown orders over 39 tweets and accounts, the details of which are under seal. Neither Twitter nor the Indian government confirmed the reports at the time, but the lawsuit followed a new set of sweeping regulations passed by India’s government to police platforms, which it said was necessary to tackle disinformation and hate speech online.

Dorsey’s comments also come at a time when the debate around Twitter’s role in supporting freedom of expression has intensified after billionaire Elon Musk purchased the platform last year. As TIME previously reported, Musk’s takeover of Twitter prompted speculation about the company changing its stance on India after it fired some 90% of the roughly 200 India-based staff shortly after the acquisition.

In January this year, Twitter complied with orders from the Indian government to censor posts sharing links to a controversial BBC documentary about Modi. Two months later, it blocked the accounts of more than 100 prominent politicians, activists, and journalists in India and abroad as the government conducted a manhunt for a local Sikh separatist leader.

While Modi and his ministers actively post on Twitter, free speech activists have voiced concerns over the government’s censorship of any criticism under the guise of national security. This year, India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index slipped from 140 to 161 out of 180 countries, according to the latest report released by global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“While we must all demand accountability from Silicon Valley platforms, that must not enable unconstitutional power grabs,” Apar Gupta, the Founding Director of the non-profit Internet Freedom Foundation, tweeted in response to the latest Twitter allegations.


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