Twitter blocks tweets “provoking communal unrest” in India

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Twitter India’s managing director, Manish Maheshwari, was called last week to appear at the Ghaziabad police station for not taking down a tweet that was “provoking communal unrest”. The tweet contained a video of an elderly, Muslim man being assaulted in Ghaziabad. Now, in response to the notice and to comply with India’s strict moderation policy, Twitter has blocked all tweets containing the video — in India. 

Twitter tries a compromise

Across the rest of the tweeting world (except maybe Nigeria) the tweets, 50 of them, remain visible. In short they’ve been geo-blocked, not completely blocked and not removed. 

Twitter released a statement (cited by The Next Web) explaining its decision:

“As explained in our Country Withheld Policy, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in response to a valid legal demand or when the content has been found to violate local law(s). The withholdings are limited to the specific jurisdiction/country where the content is determined to be illegal. We notify the account holder directly so they’re aware that we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account by sending a message to the email address associated with the account(s), if available. The legal requests that we receive are detailed in the biannual Twitter Transparency Report, and requests to withhold content are published.”

In effect, Twitter is complying with India’s local content moderation laws without actually removing the tweets. India’s policy demands that it (and Facebook) remove any content within 24 hours of a request being made. It’s taken some artistic licence with the word ‘remove’ here, but they’ve complied with the letter of the law. Local policy gets a local removal, and doesn’t apply to the rest of the world. Users with VPNs should still be able to work around the geo-block and see the offending tweets, so who knows whether this will appease the Ghaziabad police force and Indian government?

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