Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar has strongly denied former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s claim that the social media platform faced pressure from the Indian government during the farmers’ protest in 2021
Chandrasekhar took to the micro-blogging platform Twitter to label Dorsey’s statement as an outright lie and an attempt to whitewash Twitter’s controversial past. Reacting to Dorsey, who alleged in an interview with the YouTube channel Breaking Points that the threats came as Twitter refused to comply with the government’s demands to block accounts during the farmers’ protests in early 2021, the IT minister said that no one went to jail nor was Twitter shut down in the country.
“No one went to jail nor was twitter ‘shutdown’, he added.
Chandrasekhar said that Dorsey’s Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law. It behaved as if the laws of India did not apply to it.
India as a sovereign nation has the right to ensure that its laws are followed by all companies operating in India.
During the protests in January 2021, there was a lot of misinformation and even reports of genocide which were definitely fake.
“GoI was obligated to remove misinformation from the platform because it had the potential to further inflame the situation based on fake news. Such was the level of partisan behaviour on Twitter under Jack regime, that they had a problem removing misinformation from the platform in India, when they did it themselves when similar events took place in the USA," the Minister wrote.
According to the Minister, there is ample evidence now in public domain about Jack’s Twitter’s “arbitrary, blatantly partisan and discriminatory conduct and misuse of its power on its platform during that period".
“Twitter under Dorsey was not just violating Indian law, but was partisan in how it was using ‘de-amplify’ and deplatforming of some arbitrarily in violation of Articles 14,19 of our constitution and also assisting in weaponising of misinformation," he further said.
“All social media intermediaries operating in India have to comply with laws to ensure that the internet is safe, trusted and accountable," said the Minister.
During the interview, Dorsey mentioned that India exerted pressure on the platform. ".....India is one of the countries which had many requests around farmers protests, around particular journalists which were critical of the government and it manifested in ways such as we will shut Twitter down in India, India is a big marketplace for us. We would raid the homes of your employees, which they did and we will shut down your offices if you don't follow suit and this is India, a democratic country, " Dorsey said.
Earlier, the Congress sought an answer from the Centre Dorsey's claim.
“Modi Govt. forced twitter to shut down accounts of Farmers & Farmer’s movement, shut down accounts of journalists critical of Govt, OR Twitter and its employees would be raided. This is what Twitter Co Founder and Ex CEO Jack Dorsey admits in a TV interview. Will Modi Govt answer?” Congress MP Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.
“Sensational disclosure of former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. 'Indian government threatens to ban Twitter and raid during the farmer's movement'. The real face of the cowardly dictator and oppressive government will be exposed,” Congress's chairperson of social media and digital platforms Supriya Shrinate tweeted.
At a Congress press conference over the issues, Shrinate said, “The topic of this press conference is to reveal how the murder of democracy is being done in the mother of democracy...When farmers were agitating at the Delhi border for more than a year, braving winter, summer and rain, they were being called 'mawali, Khalistani, Pakistani and terrorists' and platforms like Twitter were being told that if they show farmers, they will be shut down in India and raided…”