Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and IT, responded to a viral video in which an apparent Twitter engineer said that the platform had a strong left-wing bias and that right-wingers were frequently suppressed.
According to the minister, this is “deeply troubling” and raises questions about having an open and responsible internet.
Chandrasekhar argued that internet intermediaries and platforms enjoy safe harbour under Section 79 of the IT Act in India since their algorithms are likewise expected to be neutral.
He tweeted on May 17 stating that “revelations like this raise many concerns for us vis a vis an Open, Safe & Trusted, Accountable Internet”.
In the video shared by Project Veritas, the person in question was identified as Twitter engineer Siru Murugesan. He claimed that Twitter had a far-left mentality that does not believe in free speech and would restrict conservative or right-wing views.
Here it should be noted that Project Veritas earned massive popularity on social media during and after the 2020 US presidential election. As reported earlier, in April 2021, the founder of Project Veritas was banned from Twitter for using multiple fake accounts to “artificially amplify or disrupt conversations” in violation of the platform’s anti-manipulation and spam policies.
However, it is understood that Murugesan had no idea about the video clips. He can be heard saying, “Ideologically, it does not make sense, because we’re actually censoring the right and not the left.”
“So, everyone on the right-wing will be like, ‘bro, it’s okay to stay, just gotta tolerate it.’ ‘The left will be like, no, I’m not gonna tolerate it. I need it censored or else I’m not gonna be on the platform. It does that on the right. It’s true. There is bias. It is what it is today,” he added.
Murugesan went on to say that his coworkers “hate” billionaire Elon Musk’s planned takeover because he is seen as someone whose businesses run counter to Twitter’s “socialist” environment.
He called Musk “a capitalist” and added that “we weren’t really operating as capitalists, more like very socialist”. Murugesan also stated that a lot has changed since the takeover announcement and that Twitter employees are concerned about their jobs.
However, Chandrasekhar’s latest tweet came almost a week after he said that de-platforming is a violation of users’ fundamental rights, in the context of Twitter’s decision to remove former US President Donald Trump from the microblogging platform.
It is noteworthy that when the video of the alleged Twitter engineer went viral, Musk tweeted on May 17 asking “Is it legit?” He made the remark on a Twitter thread where journalist Benny Johnson had posted the video.
Johnson responded to Musk by saying that Twitter confirmed the authenticity of the video, posting a photo of an alleged internal Twitter message warning employees about being targeted by reporters.
Musk has frequently complained about a left-wing bias on Twitter, pointing out that right-wing figures such as Trump and the former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon are banned while extremists on the other side are not.
However, amid this chaos on the microblogging site, Twitter, for its part, has not issued an official statement or responded to the video’s veracity.