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Twitter agrees to block fake PMO accounts

Updated: August 23, 2012, 3:05 PM IST
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Twitter agrees to block fake PMO accounts
The development comes after the government set a deadline for Twitter to remove objectionable content.

New Delhi: Microblogging site Twitter has agreed to block all fake accounts in the name of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). The development comes after the government set a deadline of 12 hours deadline for Twitter and other social media websites to remove objectionable content or face a shutdown in India.

But there is major confusion in the government over blocking of Twitter handles and social networking websites pages. The PMO, the Home Ministry and the Department of Telecom are all adding to the confusion.

While Home Ministry sources deny they have blocked Twitter or social networking websites pages, the Department of Telecom sources confirm that they have received a list of social networking pages for blocking. Many users have complained that their Twitter handles and URLs cannot be accessed.

Twitter had earlier promised to cooperate with the government after the PMO complained to it about objectionable content on six accounts resembling the PMO's official account.

As the government blocked the six accounts after Twitter took no action, the social networking portal communicated to the PMO that it would be locating the "unlawful content".

Earlier, the PMO had asked the Cyber Security Cell of the Department of IT to block these accounts as these had content having "communal overtones" and could have serious ramifications as these could be mistaken as the official account of the PMO.

The PMO had initially asked the Twitter to shut down these accounts but after it was not done, the matter was referred to the Cyber Security Cell.

The deadline was given after Twitter failed to respond to the Ministry of Home Affairs' request to issue show cause notices on offensive and provocative Twitter handles.

Ministry of Home Affairs sources also say that updates from 28 URLs have been asked to be removed, but no specific users or handles have been named. While one of the social media websites - Facebook - has agreed to co-operate, Twitter has so far refused any compliance.

Union Home Secretary RK Singh on Wednesday asked the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEIT) to serve the ultimatum on Twitter as it failed to comply with the government order to block 28 webpages on its site.

Meanwhile, Twitter users are furious with topics like GOI blocks and Emergency 2012 trending. The Telecom Ministry will also hold a review meeting with the National Security Advisor and the Intelligence Bureau on the matter.

Government had already ordered blocking of 310 webpages where morphed and inflammatory contents were uploaded with the aim to inflame passions.

According to the government morphed photos and hate content on the websites were responsible for the panic that gripped Northeast Indians in many parts of the country, forcing them to flee to their home states from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

First Published: August 23, 2012, 3:05 PM IST
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