The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) requested Twitter to take down a huge chunk of content that could spew religious hatred in the country, a media report said.
Following the appeal, which was made last month, Twitter took down a large number of tweets, as suggested by the government, including one by BJP leader Tejasvi Surya that likened Islam with terrorism. The 29-year-old BJP MP from south Bengaluru was recently subjected to massive criticism when one of his old tweets on Arab women had resurfaced.
According to a report by The Wire, the ruling party's directive to Twitter came to light after Lumen, a third-party database, published a new report carrying the details of content removal requests made to the micro-blogging website.
The Luman report stated that Twitter withheld over a hundred posts and categorised them as 'government request', which implies that the ruling party had ordered the removal of those tweets.
What did Tejasvi Surya's tweet say?
The list of bigoted tweets submitted to Twitter by MEITY carried one by Tejasvi Surya which he did back in 2015. "In short: true, terror has no religion. But the terrorist definitely has a religion, and in most cases it's Islam," he had written.
Here is a screenshot of his now withheld tweet:
Following the directive by MEITY which was issued under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, Twitter took down Tejasvi Surya' tweet along with around 130 others.
The other tweets that could be dubbed as anti-Muslim and have now been removed include one by a user named Shefali Vaidya and one by a parody account of former CJI Ranjan Gogoi. Their tweets blamed the members of Tablighi Jamaat for the spread of the novel coronavirus in India.
The withheld content cannot be viewed by users in India anymore but can be accessed by those in other countries. In India, the potentially offensive tweets have been replaced by a message reading, "This tweet from ___ has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand".
A surgical strike on bigotry
As stated by The Wire, the content that has been withdrawn was mostly targeted towards a particular community or religion. Out of the total number of tweets, more than half could be labeled as anti-Islamist while the remaining ones could be deemed as anti-Hindu and anti-Sikh.
The Central Government also focussed on objectionable tweets concerning the Kashmir issue in order to avoid any sort of unrest in the valley.