India’s technology minister has lashed out at social media giants, accusing them of double standards and urging them to follow the country’s laws. The row comes after Twitter refused to take down posts on Indian farmers’ protests.
The angry remarks were made by Ravi Shankar Prasad as he addressed the country’s parliament on Thursday. While US-based social media giants are welcome to do business in India, they must follow the existing rules, he warned.
“Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp, they are welcome to work in India,” the minister stated, but warned that they “will have to follow the Constitution of India” and “abide by the laws.”
Prasad’s comments came after Twitter refused to suspend more than 1,000 accounts that the Indian government believes have been spreading misinformation on the ongoing farmers’ protests in the country. The demonstrations against proposed agricultural laws culminated on Republic Day on January 26, when angry farmers stormed the iconic Red Fort complex in New Delhi.
Last week, India gave Twitter a list of the offending accounts, urging the social media giant to ban them and threatening major fines and even jail terms for its executives if it failed to comply. While Twitter has taken action against hundreds of accounts it deemed to be spreading spam and manipulating information, it refused to blanket ban all the users listed, insisting such a measure would not be “consistent with Indian law.”
The approach has clearly shown that the platform indulges in “double standards,” Prasad said, pointing fingers at Twitter’s take on the aftermath of the US Capitol Hill violence early in January.
During Capitol Hill, you stand with the police action and in violence at Red Fort, you take a different stand.
The Capitol Hill debacle prompted Twitter, as well as other US social media companies, to launch a massive purge of the accounts they believed to have promoted and encouraged the violence in any fashion. The accounts of then-president Donald Trump and multiple other high-profile figures were permanently suspended during the purge.
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