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Govt Asks Twitter to Block 1,178 More Accounts With 'Khalistani' Links, Unhappy with Founder Taking Sides

Farmers block Shambhu Highway during their 'chakka jam' protest as part of the ongoing agitation over new farm laws, in Patiala, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. (PT Photo)

Farmers block Shambhu Highway during their 'chakka jam' protest as part of the ongoing agitation over new farm laws, in Patiala, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. (PT Photo)

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s recent decision to like some of the tweets made in support of the farmers protest has not gone down well by the government which feels that the act raises questions over the neutrality of the social media platform.

The centre on Thursday has served new notices to Twitter to block 1,178 accounts, suspected to be linked to Khalistan sympathisers or backed by Pakistan over the misuse of the micro-blogging platform regarding farmers’ protest.

The fresh trouble for Twitter comes after the central government's earlier move of blocking 257 accounts on Twitter, Times of India reported.

Sources said that Twitter is yet to comply with the directions issued under Section 69A of the IT Act. The recent demand has been made by the IT ministry after it received the advisory from the Home Ministry and other security agencies. Twitter has not responded on the demands so far.

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“The accounts ordered blocked are of Khalistani sympathisers, or those backed by Pakistan and operating from foreign territories. Many of the accounts are also automated bots that were used for sharing and amplifying misinformation and provocative contents on farmers prtest,” a source reportedly said.

The government is of the view that the activities by these accounts on Twitter have potential to “cause threat to the public order in view of the ongoing farmers protests” in parts of the country.

The government has warned Twitter that its officials may land a jail term of upto seven years and the company slapped with penalty if they refuse to comply with the orders.

In its first notice issued in February, the IT ministry said that “Twitter is an intermediary and they are obliged to obey directions of the government. Refusal to do so will invite penal action.”

Twitter however had said that it had decided to unfreeze most of the accounts as the tweets sent out by them constituted “free speech and are newsworthy.”

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Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s recent decision to like some of the tweets made in support of the farmers protest has not gone down well by the government which feels that the act raises questions over the neutrality of the social media platform.

“If the founder of Twitter is openly taking sides, it does raise question over the neutrality of the platform and how it deals with India’s requests related to the subject,” a top source in the government reportedly said.

Dorsey had liked a few tweets which supported international singer Rihanna’s stand on the farmers’ protest. Dorsey had liked a post by Washington Post journalist Karen Attiah who claimed that ‘Rihanna has the Indian government shook.’

first published:February 08, 2021, 08:51 IST