Twitter lifts restrictions on accounts covering India’s farmer protests

KARACHI, (MANEND NEWS): Twitter has removed the restrictions that it had allegedly placed on the coverage of India’s growing and controversial farmer protests, a local fact-checker who initially reported the development confirmed Monday evening.

“All the accounts are back,” Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of and fact-checker at Alt News, wrote on Twitter.

Twitter’s alleged blocking of the coverage about India’s growing farmer protests had earlier caused outrage on the Internet for restricting access to major accounts, including those of respected publications, actors, and left-wing politicians.

At the time, Zubair said Twitter had blocked access to at least 16 accounts that were reporting on and covering the farmer protests in India.

According to him, the accounts included politics and culture magazine The Caravan, 48-year-old Indian actor Sushant Singh (not to be confused with the late Sushant Singh Rajput), Muslim activist Asif Khan, writer Hansraj Meena, parody account @EpicRoflDon, Tractor To Twitter campaign, Kisan Ekta Morcha movement, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi lawmaker Jarnail Singh, AAP executive member Preeti Sharma Menon, AAM social media team member Aarti, Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Puducherry, CPI (M) leader Md Salim, columnist Sanjukta Basu, @jatt_junction, Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) in Ugrahan, and broadcasting company Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati.

Screenshots of the accounts that had their access restricted indicated a message from Twitter saying they were withheld “in India in response to a legal demand”. They are, however, accessible from Pakistan.

People were quick to react to the development, tagging Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Twitter Safety, Twitter’s director of policy for India, Mahima Kaul, and the micro-blogging platform’s global head for policy, strategy, and development, Nick Pickles.

Buzzfeed tech correspondent Pranav Dixit tweeted that a Twitter spokesperson “declined to speak to me on record despite multiple requests for more transparency”.

However, it issued a statement, citing different countries’ laws and saying if it received “a properly scoped request from an authorised entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time”.

“Transparency is vital to protecting freedom of expression, so we have a notice policy for withheld content. Upon receipt of requests to withhold content, we will promptly notify the affected account holders (unless we are prohibited from doing so e.g. if we receive a court order under seal),” Twitter added.

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