This is a reproduction of a set of messages posted on Koo. We have taken the consent of the user to reproduce the same
Some thoughts on Twitter’s recalcitrance to bend to Indian laws. Notice the words in the message they used.
- We have not taken action on certain entities – journalists, activists and politicians. It is pertinent to note that some of those whose accounts are not banned are actually facing charges and are on bail for doing exactly what Twitter is saying they have a right to do.
- “On behalf of the people we serve”. What exactly does that mean? Twitter is a platform which gives free access to everyone. Unless we are talking about ad-revenue or some other form of revenue from the impact people, how does it matter when India is asking them to scrap off the accounts of a handful out of millions?
This raises the question of what a private company can do and what a private Company can’t do, and to how far and by what means it can contest the government of the day, whatever the country.
The questions are these.
- If Indian Government asks Twitter to block certain handles, what should Twitter do? Follow the law by blocking the handles and then go for a redressal, or challenge the sovereign state by saying your arguments hold no merit?
- Who should curtail free speech in a country? Can a private company unilaterally remove the handle for offensive content or should it be the company route the information to the government of the day to moderate the content?
- Any company which earns more than a certain amount in India, what level of accountability should it have to Indian citizens and public?
- There are at least a few people who fled Indian law but are still given a space on Twitter to post something which is visible in India. Isn’t this something which violates Indian law? Same goes to convicted criminals with verified accounts.
Just came across this message by @meity which spells out the urgent need to make people accept that Indian Law reigns supreme in India.
This is a dangerous trend. Large nations can brave the tide but can small nations do that? Here is a case where a confusion is created between Free Speech and Free Trade. What Mexico says is permission to operate as a voice for people is construed as restricting trade for Twitter and Facebook. All the more a need for quicker regulations.
Unlike other major countries, India is has got too much security issues and any slip, deliberate or accidental is going to cause massive repercussions to the security of the state. We know of cases as like the Sri Lankan Twitter rumours which led to communal rioting. We know of people sitting overseas and teaching people how to break law. We know of people who share classified information.
A good benchmark of how social media plays a massive part in India’s troubles can be gauged from the fact that restrictions on WhatsApp (through restricting internet) led to a drastic reduce in number of stone pelting incidents in Kashmir Valley.
All this begs one to question, what is the dividing line between Right to Freedom of Speech and Responsibility towards the Nation? If the private entity prefers Right to Freedom of Speech even at the expense of creating social unrest, isn’t it time governments pitch in and frame guidelines for the same? Bare minimum, this is what we would expect the government to frame as rules.
- No private entity should have the right to restrict right to free speech. In case a request comes, the request should be forwarded to the government for further action. Twitter cannot act upon it.
- Restriction of accounts as mandated by Indian Law
- Regular reports to government over potentially harmful content/help government to set up such reports.
- Details over trend manipulation and other promotion/demotion activities
- Strict political neutrality
- A clear demarcation between an aggregation of information and accountability for sharing information
Banning is not the solution for anything. Regulating it is.
Check this news from Mexico
As what an Indian Government Official said, “We are giving you space to do business in India, not to run its democracy”. This is the fundamental thing we all need to remember.
Points to Ponder
Are Global corporates like Twitter trying to define the way democracy should be run in other countries?
Twitter effectively crushed the voices of millions of Conservatives and Patriots in United states while not taking action against millions of Antifa and BLM related handles that called for protests and riots. Is this not hypocrisy of Twitter that favors anarchy over the rule of law?
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