Twitter Said to Withhold 50 Tweets associated with Alleged Assault of Muslim Man in Ghaziabad

Twitter has “withheld” 50 tweets associated with a communally sensitive video clip of an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh on the microblogging platform, consistent with sources. According to information on the Lumen database, Twitter received a legal request from the Indian government on June 17 for actioning 50 tweets. 

These tweets are withheld and therefore the content couldn’t be independently verified. Upon clicking on the blocked URLs listed on the Lumen database, a message saying the tweet has been “withheld in India in response to a legal demand” is displayed. 

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According to sources, these tweets contained content associated with the said video clip. When contacted, a Twitter spokesperson said: “As explained in our Country Withheld Policy, it’s going to be necessary to withhold access to certain content in response to a legitimate legal demand or when the content has been found to violate local law(s)”. 

The spokesperson noted that the withholdings are limited to the precise jurisdiction/country where the content is decided to be illegal. The account holder is notified directly – by sending a message to the e-mail address related to the account(s), if available – in order that the user is aware that Twitter has received a legal order concerning the account. 

“The legal requests that we receive are detailed within the biannual Twitter Transparency Report, and requests to withhold content are published on Lumen,” the spokesperson added. Requests received by Twitter for withholding content are published on the Lumen database – an independent scientific research studying ceases and desists letters concerning online content. 

The Ghaziabad police have received an FIR against Twitter and 6 people for circulating a video that claimed to possess the elderly Muslim man saying he was allegedly thrashed and asked to chant ”Jai Shri Ram”. Police say this was done to make communal unrest. The Ghaziabad police have sent a notice to Twitter India director Manish Maheshwari, asking him to hitch a search in reference to the case. 

Twitter has drawn flak for failure to completely suit the new IT rules, which mandates among other requirements, the appointment of three key personnel – chief compliance officer, nodal officer, and grievance officer by social media platforms with over 50 lakh users. All three personnel need to be residents in India. 

While the principles came into effect on May 26, Twitter is yet to stick to the social media guidelines, despite repeated reminders from the govt. The government, last week, had slammed Twitter for deliberate defiance and failure to suits the IT rules, which has led to the US giant losing its intermediary status in India and becoming responsible for users posting any unlawful content.

Twitter and therefore the government are hostile over multiple instances within the past months, including during the farmers” protest and later when the microblogging platform tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as “manipulated media”, triggering a pointy rebuke from the Centre. Twitter has an estimated 1.75 crore users in India, as per data cited by the govt recently. 

Earlier this month, Twitter had blocked accounts of Punjabi rapper JazzyB, Sydney-based hip-hop artist L-Fresh the Lion, and two others following demands by the Indian government. Earlier this year, quite 500 accounts were suspended and access to many others in India blocked after the govt ordered the microblogging platform to restrain the spread of misinformation and inflammatory content associated with farmers” protests.

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