Twitter 'withholds' 250 accounts in view of the ongoing farmer agitation: Govt source

Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) has directed Twitter to 'withhold' or block around 250 Twitter accounts that were using intimidatory hashtags and making fake and provocative tweets on January 30, according to sources in the government.
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Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) has 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, according to sources in the government.

The source says that this was done on the request of Ministry of Home Affairs and law enforcement agencies to prevent any escalation of law and order in view of the ongoing farmer agitation. Incitement to genocide is a grave threat to public order and therefore, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) ordered for the blocking of such Twitter accounts and tweets under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, according to people closer to the development.

A list of accounts is not available, and the users on Twitter are still discovering that a number of accounts that were tweeting information related to farmers' protest are now showing a 'blocked in India' message. Since Twitter uses regional blocking of accounts, the message shown on the account says that "the account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand."

Twitter has reportedly blocked accounts of Kisan Ekta Morcha, The Caravan India, Manik Goyal, Tractor2twitr and jatt_junction, all in India, amongst others. The blocked list of accounts also those of actor Sushant Singh and Sanjukta Basu, a columnist who writes for National Herald.

On its website, Twitter explains that instead of blocking accounts, it usually withholds them in a particular country when it gets a legal notice. The company says, "In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere if we receive a valid and 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. 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)."

YourStory has written to Twitter for a statement and more details on the same, and we will update the story as soon as we hear back from the company.

Edited by Kanishk Singh