It is during the time of crisis that social media often steps in like a game-changer. However, in one such instance, many-a-Twitter users in India found themselves bearing the brunt of censorship. According to a report published by The Verge, 50 tweets critical of the Indian government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic were revoked from the micro-blogging site in the country.
The report further stated how Twitter withheld tweets with Covid information from users in India. This revelation was published on the Lumen database, a Harvard University project. Of the tweets that were pulled out, several belonged to prominent Twitteratis, including Revanth Reddy, a sitting Member of Parliament; Moloy Ghatak, a West Bengal state minister; actor Vineet Kumar Singh; and two filmmakers, Vinod Kapri and Avinash Das. However, these are now inaccessible to Twitter users from India, including those who originally posted them.
In fact, several other reports have revealed that Twitter is not the only social media website that has withheld information against the government. However, the media is yet to hear from Facebook about the claim.
This will not be the first time Twitter has faced backlash for censoring information in India. In February 2021, the micro-blogging site permanently blocked as many as 500 accounts of those tweeting against the ongoing farmer's protest. The move was criticised heavily by users, and several also ended up switching from Twitter to other alternatives. A report published in New York Times also revealed how the Indian government issued a non-compliance notice to the company. Failing to abide by the same could land Twitter India's employees in jail.
Tweets or publication of material considered seditious or defamatory in nature is restricted by Indian law. Among the tweets that were censored in the country, one was by the West Bengal state minister Moloy Ghatak, who spoke about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi downplayed the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic in India. He also mentioned how India would "never forgive" the PM for his callousness and for exporting the vaccine to other countries. However, this tweet was censored and now displays the following message: This Tweet from @GhatakMoloy has been withheld in IN in response to a legal demand.
India continues to report over three lakh new cases in an exponential increase during its second wave. However, only 1.5 per cent of the country's population has been fully vaccinated.