Twitter blocks access to dozens of Indian accounts after 'genocide' posts

Twitter blocks access to dozens of Indian accounts after 'genocide' posts”

Twitter on Monday temporarily blocked scores of accounts and tweets in India at the government's request, including those of a prominent news magazine and farmers staging mass protests in the capital. Numerous blocked accounts had also used the false hashtag "ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide", a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Indian government's Ministry of Electronics and IT submitted a list of around 250 accounts and tweets that had allegedly used the "ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide" hashtag to Twitter, accusing the accounts of "making fake, intimidatory and provocative tweets", according to a government memo shared with Indian journalists and seen by TIME.

These accounts had in the past week posted several messages supporting the farmers' protests in India.

Twitter blocked dozens of accounts in India on Monday, including that of a leading newsmagazine, on the demand of India's BJP government on grounds that the "users were posting content aiming to incite violence", two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

India's public service broadcaster, Prasar Bharti's CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati's is also on the list of names whose account has been withheld.

Tens of thousands of farmers have camped on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months, demanding the withdrawal of new agricultural laws that they say benefit private buyers at the expense of growers.

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The said twitter accounts were suspended with immediate effects.

On Tuesday Twitter unblocked a number of accounts it suspended earlier this week including those belonging to pro-farmer activists and leaders, publications like the Caravan Magazine, and farmers' unions like Kisan Ekta Morcha and Tractor2twitr, among others.

According to Twitter, the company blocked these accounts in the interim in response to a valid legal request from the MeitY pending discussions with them.

The legal demand from the Indian government put Twitter, which has employees based in the country, in a hard position.

The accounts were taken down after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY), based on a request by the Ministry of Home Affairs, asked Twitter to act against 250 Twitter handles.

India regularly uses internet shutdowns, most recently at the farmers' protest sites, to limit information sharing during disturbances. "Protecting public conversation and Transparency is fundamental to the work we do at Twitter", the social media platform said. "#RestoreHansrajMeena", tweeted the account of Gaon Dastak, a rural news platform.

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