Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
INDIA’s technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday(11) warned US social media firms to abide by the country’s laws, a day after a face-off between prime minister Narendra Modi’s administration and Twitter over content regulation.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad called out Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and WhatsApp by name and said they were welcome to operate in India, but only if they play by India’s rules.
“You will have to follow the Constitution of India, you will have to abide by the laws of India,” said Prasad.
India rebuked Twitter on Wednesday(10) after the US social media giant refused to fully comply with a government order to take down over 1,100 accounts and posts which New Delhi claims spread misinformation about the farmer protests against new agriculture reforms.
Twitter said it had not blocked all of the content because it believed the directives were not in line with Indian laws.
In a blog post, Twitter said it did “not believe that the actions we have been directed to take are consistent with Indian law”.
“In keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians,” the San Francisco-headquartered company said.
“To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.”
That prompted censure from India’s tech ministry and calls from politicians to urge their followers to join Twitter’s home-grown local rival, Koo. Some local personalities including commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal have opened accounts on Koo.
Indian farmers have camped on roads leading into the capital New Delhi since late November as they call for the new laws to be repealed, in one of the biggest challenges to prime minister Narendra Modi’s government since it came to power in 2014.
International celebrities including pop superstar Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg have even weighed in, drawing the ire of the foreign ministry, which called their online comments “sensationalist”.
Local media reported that New Delhi has accused Twitter of bias, saying its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, had liked tweets by celebrities supporting the farmer protests.