Twitter restores accounts hours after withholding them in view of the ongoing farmer protests

A government source had earlier told YourStory that the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) had directed Twitter to 'withhold' or block around 250 Twitter accounts that were using "ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide" hashtag and making fake, intimidatory, and provocative tweets on January 30, 2021.
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“Is this tweet visible to Indian accounts?” tweeted Kisan Ekta Morcha, which was withheld by Twitter along with other 250 accounts on the government's notice in view of the ongoing farmers' agitation. The accounts have now been restored by Twitter after hours of withholding them.

A government source had earlier told YourStory that the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) had directed Twitter to 'withhold' or block around 250 Twitter accounts that were using "ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide" hashtag and making fake, intimidatory, and provocative tweets on January 30, 2021.

While the list of accounts was not available, Twitter users discovered that a number of accounts that were tweeting information related to farmers' protests are a message saying "the account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand."

Some of the blocked accounts other than Kisan Ekta Morcha were The Caravan India, Manik Goyal, Tractor2twitr, and jatt_junction, actor Sushant Singh, and Sanjukta Basu, a columnist who writes for National Herald.

The accounts were withheld under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, which empowers the government to block access to content that is seen to pose a threat to public order.

In a statement to the media, Twitter had said, “Many countries have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content. In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a properly scoped request from an authorised entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time-to-time. Transparency is vital to protecting freedom of expression, so we have a notice policy for withheld content.”

On its website, Twitter explains that instead of blocking accounts, it usually withholds them in a particular country when it gets a legal notice. Such withholdings will be limited to the specific jurisdiction that has issued the valid legal demand or where the content has been found to violate local law(s)."

Edited by Megha Reddy

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