India accuses Twitter of ignoring new rules as row festers

India police visit Twitter offices after govt tweet flagged


New Delhi: Police in the Indian capital issued a notice from Twitter’s office late Monday to seek information on why the tweets of the spokespersons of the ruling Indian nationalist party were marked as “manipulative media.”

At the request of government authorities, after Twitter lifted the blockade of many accounts criticizing New Delhi’s new agricultural laws earlier this year, tensions between the Indian government and the US social media giants have been tense.

An Indian climate activist was arrested in February after allegedly helping to create a guide for farmers to protest against environmentalists, which was posted on Twitter by environmentalist Greta Thunberg.

The government also ordered Twitter and Facebook last month to delete dozens of posts criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The latest spat followed Twitter s labelling of a tweet on Tuesday by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra as “manipulated media”.

He shared a document that allegedly showed the overall plan of the opposition Congress Party in contrast to the BJP’s efforts to fight the epidemic.

Congress sent a letter on Twitter to Twitter’s headquarters in the United States, calling for the permanent suspension of Patra’s account and the accounts of other BJP representatives.

The opposition party claimed that the shared documents were forged.

The Delhi police confirmed to AFP that they had gone to Twitter’s office to post a notice about the tweet, but said it was part of a “routine procedure.”

“Delhi Police is enquiring into a complaint in which clarification is sought from the Twitter regarding the classification of a tweet by Shri Sambit Patra as  manipulative ,” police said in a statement.

“It appears that Twitter has some information which is not known to us on the basis of which they have classified it as such. This information is relevant to the enquiry.”

A Twitter spokesperson told AFP it had “no comment” about Delhi Police s visit to its offices.

Under Twitter s rules, a post is tagged as “manipulated media” if it includes “media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated”.

A leading factcheck organisation, AltNews, said it had analysed the documents and claimed that some were created with a forged letterhead.

Modi and the BJP have been criticised for their slow response to a new wave of Covid-19 infections that has pushed India s healthcare system to breaking point.

The BJP has hit back via its social media army, blaming state governments and others for ignoring what it says were Modi s repeated warnings of a second wave.

India has reported just over 26.7 million Covid-19 infections and more than 300,000 deaths, according to health ministry data, but experts warn that the actual toll could be much higher.

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