Twitter locks account of India’s largest opposition party – TechCrunch

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Twitter has locked the account of Indian National Congress, the South Asian nation’s largest opposition party, for violating its rules.

The Indian National Congress wrote about the Twitter episode on Facebook Thursday.

“When our leaders were put in jails, we were not scared then why would we be afraid of closing our Twitter accounts now. We are Congress, this is the message of the people, we will fight, we will keep fighting. If it is a crime to raise our voice to get justice for the rape victim girl, then we will do this crime a hundred times. Jai Hind… Satyamev Jayate,” it said.

Rohan Gupta, the head of social media for Congress, alleged that Twitter had taken the step at the direction of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, adding that the firm had also suspended profiles of several of the party’s senior leaders.

In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said the company’s rules are enforced judiciously and impartially for everyone on our service.

“We have taken proactive action on several hundred Tweets that posted an image that violated our Rules, and may continue to do so in line with our range of enforcement options. Certain types of private information carry higher risks than others, and our aim is always to protect individuals’ privacy and safety. We strongly encourage everyone on the service to familiarise themselves with the Twitter Rules and report anything they believe is in violation,” the spokesperson added.

The locking of the Indian National Congress’ account has prompted some new criticism for the American firm. “We strongly condemn the blocking of the accounts of the Indian National Congress and senior leaders of the Congress party,” tweeted Derek O’ Brien, from the All India Trinamool Congress party.

Last week, Twitter suspended the account of Rahul Gandhi (pictured above), the former president of the Indian National Congress, after he tweeted pictures with the family of a nine-year-old who was allegedly raped and murdered. The company was shortly reached by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, an Indian statutory body, which said the Congress leader’s tweets violated the privacy of a minor victim.

The new episode is Twitter’s latest headache in India, a key overseas market for American firms.

After months-long public tension with the Indian government, Twitter finally complied with the South Asian nation’s new IT law, which went into effect in May, a lawyer for New Delhi said in a court Tuesday.

Twitter, which was facing heat from the Indian government for not blocking some tweets that the Indian government had deemed objectionable earlier this year, had requested a few additional months to comply with the new rules that mandate all significant social media firms — any service with more than 5 million users, per the Indian government — to appoint officials in the country to address on-ground concerns in the country.

The move is expected to deescalate the tension between the two. Twitter labeled a tweet from Sambit Patra, the spokesperson of India’s ruling party BJP, in May as “manipulated media.” Days later, a special squad of Delhi police that investigates terrorism and other crimes made a surprise visit to two of Twitter’s offices in the country to seek information about Twitter’s rationale to term Patra’s tweets as manipulated. At the time, Twitter said it was “concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.”

This is a developing story. More to follow…



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