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India could ban Twitter over escalating farmers’ protest

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What you need to know

  • The Indian government has issued a notice to Twitter, threatening the social media giant to block accounts and content related to farmer protests in the country.
  • Twitter had restricted several accounts in the country earlier this week in compliance with a legal demand, but the restrictions were later lifted.
  • India's IT Ministry says it may take penal action against Twitter if it refuses to comply with the order.

Earlier this week, Twitter restricted access to several popular accounts linked with the ongoing farmer protests in India, in compliance with a "legal demand." However, it restored the accounts just 12 hours after they were restricted. India's IT Ministry has now sent a notice to the social media giant, asking the company to comply with its order to block content and accounts related to the protests.

A copy of the notice accessed by TechCrunch reads:

Twitter cannot assume the role of a court and justify non-compliance. Twitter being an intermediary is obliged to obey the directions as per satisfaction of authorities as to which inflammatory content will arouse passion and impact public order. Twitter cannot sit as an appellate authority over the satisfaction of the authorities about its potential impact on derailing public order.

The Indian government has expressed concern over "derogatory and factually incorrect tweets and hashtags" that circulated in the country this week. It has also said that these tweets and hashtags were "designed to spread hate."

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Farmers in India have been protesting ever since the controversial farm laws were passed four months back. Farmer unions in the country say that the new laws are anti-farmer and corporate-friendly. Farmers across the country are worried that large corporate houses would drive them out of business if the new laws come into effect.

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