With Congress party accusing Twitter of double standards, this is not the first time the platform has been embroiled in a political controversy over content regulation.

A week after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account was banned, the party said their area code was closed Twitter The account was blocked from the social media platform along with the accounts of 6 high-ranking party leaders and several volunteers.

MediaNama has confirmed with Twitter that the accounts of the INC and the members Randeep Surjewala and KC Venugopal have been blocked. For at least 4 other executives, MediaNama viewed screenshots of Twitter’s messages to them.

Why is it important? The latest developments mean that India’s most prominent opposition party will now have a fragmented presence on social media. The Congress Twitter cell phone has 8.4 million followers and the account of former party president Rahul Gandhi has over 19 million followers. Gandhi’s account was suspended last week after he tweeted a picture of himself with the parents of an alleged rape victim, which was later deleted from Twitter for violating the rules. The tweet also called for a legal notice from the National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of Children, stating that he violated the victim’s privacy and violated the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Law on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses. The controversial IT rules 2021 also require that social media intermediaries such as Twitter voluntarily remove all content that violates Indian law, especially that related to child abuse.

Twitter’s actions smell of double standards: Congress

Speaking to MediaNama, All India Congress Committee Secretary Pranav Jha said that all of these accounts were blocked for republishing Gandhi’s photo through their accounts. Jha said that Twitter’s action smelled of “double standards” and that the party would take legal action against the platform.

When asked if updates to Gandhi’s account were restored, Jha said that Gandhi had not yet deleted the flagged tweet. According to the rules of Twitter, the countdown to unlocking a banned account begins after taking certain actions such as deleting a violating Tweet.

Jha said: “Twitter’s behavior is questionable. It clearly smells of partisan behavior under the pressure of the Modi government. We have all seen that Twitter had no problem when verified Handles from the National Commission of SC and a BJP MP posted similar images while dealing with vengeance against all of the Congress Party. ”

Twitter’s answer

In response to MediaNama’s inquiry about its actions and the legal basis for doing so, a Twitter spokesperson said.

That Twitter rules are enforced reasonably and impartially for all in our ministry. We have taken proactive steps on hundreds of tweets who posted a picture that violated our rules and may continue to do so in accordance with ours Range of enforcement options. Certain types of private information are more risky than others, and we always aim to protect individual privacy and security. We strongly encourage everyone on the service to familiarize themselves with the Twitter rules and report anything they think will hurt.

Other congressional Twitter handles are also blocked

The party leaders whose accounts have been blocked are:

  • Randeep Surjewala, INC spokesman with 1.7 million followers
  • Sushmita Dev, INC spokesman with almost 3 lakh followers
  • KC Venugopal, Congress Rajya Sabha MP with over 1 lakh supporters
  • Jitendra S. Alwar Secretary General, AICC in charge of Assam with 38 thousand followers
  • Ajay Maken, Secretary General AICC with over 7 lakh followers
  • Manickam Tagore, AICC responsible for Telangana with almost 40,000 followers
  • Pranav Jhas The Twitter account with 29,000 followers was also blocked.

According to reports, Twitter had previously locked INC TV Twitter handle for violating its rules by posting the same photo. But the account has since been restored.

Other cases of political content regulation in India

February 1st: Twitter has blocked around 250 accounts in response to a government announcement. These included accounts for the news magazine The Caravan, as well as activists and organizations that supported the month-long peasant protests on the outskirts of Delhi. Six hours later, Twitter restores the accounts.

February 11th: Twitter bans the Indian account of MP Rajya Sabha, Chaudhary Sukhram Singh Yadav, in response to a legal request.

April 24th: Twitter is responding to government requests to censor 52 tweets, mainly criticizing India’s handling of the second surge in the COVID-19 pandemic. These included tweets from Revanth Reddy, a sitting MP, and Moloy Ghatak, a West Bengal State minister.

May 21: The Department of Electronics and Information Technology is writing to Twitter to remove the rigged media tag it had put on the tweets of several BJP leaders. She also asked for clarification on how her policies (regarding manipulated media) were applicable in this case.

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