Twitter on Saturday removed around 50 tweets in India most of which criticised the central government’s slow and languid response to the crisis that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed in the country.
A report by Deccan Herald said that tweets by Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera, Congress MP Revanth Reddy and West Bengal Minister Moloy Ghatak are among some of the tweets that have been taken down. Interestingly, these accounts are recognised as the ‘verified’ accounts by Twitter. Tweets put out by filmmaker Avinash Das and filmmaker Vinod Kapri have also been removed from public view in India.
Many of these tweets -- that are still visible to the Twitter users outside India -- seem to have used hashtags that call for resignation of the PM or have called second wave a #ModiMadeDisaster. The Wire, which has managed to access the screenshots of the tweets, reported that their authors have made statements and raised questions about issues such as the silence surrounding Kumbh Mela, election rallies organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party amid rising cases and the collapse of the healthcare system. A post by West Bengal minister Moloy Ghatak, which refers to Modi as ‘Nero’ and alleges that Modi underplayed the Covid-19 situation in India, has also been removed from public view, said The Wire.
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According to Twitter’s filings with the Lumen database – a transparency initiative run by Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Centre which tracks content removal requests – the affected tweets have been taken down in response to a request by the Indian government, reported The Wire.
The law cited in the government's request was the Information Technology Act, 2000, reported Mint.
"When we receive a valid legal request, we review it under both the Twitter Rules and local law," the Twitter spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to the daily.
The Wire reported that there are a few among these tweets that “appear to have spread fake news regarding the pandemic”. “At least one tweet reviewed by The Wire used a misleading photo to describe the impact of the second wave on India’s healthcare system,” it said.
The development has come as the India becomes the first country in the world to report a daily load of over 3 lakh COVID-19 cases and an acute oxygen shortage in the national capital as well as a few other states. The death toll increased to 1,92,311 on Sunday with a record 2,767 daily new fatalities on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health data.
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