The Union government has issued a notice to Twitter for reinstating a number of accounts on the social media accounts and non-compliance of its order to remove those accounts and tweets which alleged claimed of "farmer genocide" in the country.
The Twitter accounts which used hashtags, such as "#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide" as well as other government policies opposing the ongoing farmers protest, were, according to the government, designed to spread misinformation to inflame passions and hatred and warned that refusal to do so may invite penal action.
Blocking and unblocking user accounts
Around 100 Twitter accounts and 150 tweets related to the farmers' protests went off the microblogging site on Monday morning after the IT Ministry passed an interim order, directing Twitter to remove them under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
The hashtags had popped up on Twitter just days after the national capital witnessed massive violence during the tractor rally organized by the agitating farmers on the occasion of Republic Day.
The ministry, in the statement, had also mentioned that "incitement to genocide" is not freedom of speech but a threat to law and order.
However, Twitter had reinstated those blocked accounts on Monday night itself despite any further government order on the issue. Citing the unilaterally move, the Centre, in the notice has said that the social media platform is an intermediary and is obliged to obey the direction of the government and refusal to do so will invite penal action.
Justifying its decision to reinstate the Twitter accounts, officials in Twitter India said that the tweets and the accounts constitute "free speech" and were "newsworthy", adding that it was committed to "protect public conversation".
"Pending our discussions with the regulatory authorities, we temporarily withheld these accounts in India under our Country Withheld Content policy in response to a valid legal request from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. During our subsequent meetings with the officials, Twitter conveyed that the accounts and Tweets in question constitute free speech and are newsworthy," Indian Express newspaper quoted sources as saying.
"Therefore, these Tweets and accounts have now been unwithheld. Protecting public conversation and Transparency is fundamental to the work we do at Twitter," they added.