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Farmer Protests: Govt Asks X to Block Accounts, Posts; ‘Disagree’ Says Platform but Obliges

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As per reports, the MeitY has asked the social media platform to temporarily restrict 177 accounts connected to the ongoing farmers’ protest.
Freedom of Speech

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New Delhi: In what seems to be a ‘temporary’ crackdown on social media posts related to the ongoing farmers’ protest, Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) has withheld several accounts and posts in India, including two posts by Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, while clarifying that it “disagrees” with the "orders" received from the Indian government.

Stating its stance on “freedom of expression” X’s Global Government Affairs handle said:

“The Indian government has issued executive orders requiring X to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties including significant fines and imprisonment.  In compliance with the orders, we will withhold these accounts and posts in India alone; however, we disagree with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts. Consistent with our position, a writ appeal challenging the Indian government's blocking orders remains pending. We have also provided the impacted users with notice of these actions in accordance with our policies. Due to legal restrictions, we are unable to publish the executive orders, but we believe that making them public is essential for transparency. This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making.



As per reports, the Ministry of Electronics and IT had instructed the social media platform to temporarily restrict 177 accounts connected to the ongoing farmers’ protest.

Reacting strongly to two posts by @SGPCAmritsar being withheld, the SGPC, said the blocked posts were a statement by the SGPC president “asking the government to solve problems of protesting farmers instead of using force on them’ and the other post was a “congratulatory message, part of the Ardas (Sikh prayer) offered at Sachkhand Sri Harmandir Sahib on the occasion of Prakash Gurupurab…”

 The SGPC said it was “surprised’ that the government had asked X to withhold religious content of the Sikh shrine also, “which is highly condemnable.” It urged the ministry concerned to look into the matter and clarify what was “unlawful”, as per IT Act, 2000, in the context of these posts.

Read Also: Govt Chose Emergency Anniversary to Ban SKM Twitter Handles, Say Farmer Groups

Recall that there has already been an earlier stand-off between the micro-blogging platform and the Indian government, with the former having sued the government for content blocking orders in 2022. A ruling later, however, went against the social media platform.

In July 2022, then Twitter, in its transparency report, had stated that India was only behind the US in seeking Twitter account information, accounting for 19% of global information requests. 

“It was among the top five countries to issue content-blocking orders to Twitter during July-December 2021 for all kinds of users,” said an earlier report by news agency PTI.

Twitter had said that 349 accounts of verified journalists and news outlets located around the world were subject to 326 legal demands to remove content, a 103% increase in the number of accounts since the previous period (January-June 2021), the PTI report had said.

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