India denies Dorsey’s allegations of threatening to shut down Twitter

Co-founder Jack Dorsey threatened to shut down Twitter if India did not comply with an order restricting accounts criticizing the government’s response to farmers’ protests, but the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it “a A complete lie,” he accused.

Dorsey, who stepped down as Twitter CEO in 2021, also said on Monday that he had threatened to raid the company if India did not comply with a government request to remove certain posts. .

“It took the form of: ‘Shut down Twitter in India, which is a very big market for us,’ ‘Raid your employees’ homes,’ and they did it. And here it is. India is a democracy,” Dorsey said in an interview with YouTube news show Breaking Point.

In response, Deputy Minister of Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a senior Modi government official, lashed out at Mr Dorsey’s allegations as a “complete lie”.

“No one was jailed and Twitter was not ‘closed’. Dorsey’s Twitter administration had problems accepting the sovereignty of Indian law,” he said in a Twitter post.

Dorsey’s comments once again put the spotlight on the struggles facing foreign tech giants operating under Modi. The government has often criticized Google, Facebook and Twitter for not doing enough to tackle fake or “anti-India” content on their platforms or not adhering to rules.

It was unusual for a global company with operations in India to publicly criticize the government, and the former Twitter CEO’s comments drew widespread attention. Xiaomi said in court filings last year that India’s financial crimes investigative agency threatened executives with “physical violence,” an allegation denied by the agency.

Dorsey also cited similar pressure from the Turkish and Nigerian governments, which had restricted their platforms at various points in the years before lifting the ban.

Twitter was acquired by Elon Musk last year in a $44 billion deal.

Chandrasekhar said Twitter had repeatedly violated Indian law under Dorsey and his team. He did not name Musk, but added that Twitter has been compliant since June 2022.

big tech vs modi

Modi and his cabinet are heavy users of Twitter, but free speech activists say the Modi government resorts to excessive censorship of content deemed critical of its operations. India claims the content removal order is aimed at protecting users and national sovereignty.

A public feud with Twitter throughout 2021 prompted the Modi government to call for Twitter’s “provocative” hashtag “#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide” and an “emergency block” of dozens of accounts. At the time, farmers’ groups were protesting against one of the biggest challenges facing the Modi government, the new Farm Bill.

The government then accepted the farmers’ demands. Twitter initially complied with the government’s request, but later reinstated most of the accounts for “insufficient justification,” leading authorities to threaten legal repercussions.

In the weeks that followed, police visited Twitter’s offices as part of a separate investigation related to the manipulated tagging of some ruling party posts. At the time, Twitter said it was concerned about the safety of its staff.

Dorsey said in an interview that many of India’s content removal requests during the farmers’ protests were “about certain journalists critical of the government.”

Since Modi took office in 2014, India has slipped from 140th in the World Press Freedom Index to 161st out of 180 countries this year, its lowest position ever. India denies Dorsey’s allegations of threatening to shut down Twitter

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