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Bengaluru: ‘Outright lie, no one was raided or sent to jail’

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Photo Credit : IANS

Bengaluru: The Centre on Tuesday lashed out at former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for claiming that the Indian government threatened to wind it down and conducted raids on employees’ homes, saying it is an attempt to “brush out that very dubious period of Twitter’s history”.

Reacting to Dorsey who alleged in an interview with YouTube channel Breaking Points that the threats came as Twitter refused to comply with the government’s demands to block accounts during the farmers’ protests in early 2021, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, said that no one went to jail nor was Twitter shut down in the country.

“This is an outright lie by @jack — perhaps an attempt to brush out that very dubious period of Twitter’s history. Twitter under Dorsey and his team were in repeated and continuous violations of the India law,” Chandrasekhar said in a tweet.

The Minister said that as a matter of fact, Twitter was in non-compliance with law repeatedly from 2020 to 2022 “and it was only June 2022 when they finally complied”.

“To set the record straight, no one was raided or sent to jail. Our focus was only on ensuring the compliance of Indian laws. Dorsey’s Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law. It behaved as if the laws of India did not apply to it,” Chandrasekhar noted.

In the interview, Dorsey said that India put pressure on the platform.

“We would raid the homes of your employees’, which they did; We will shut down your offices if you don’t follow suit. And this is India, a democratic country,” Dorsey said on the channel when asked to share some examples of pressure from foreign governments during his tenure, before Elon Musk took over.

“India is a country that had many requests of us around the farmers’ protest, around particular journalists that were critical of the government, and it manifested in ways such as ‘we will shut Twitter down in India’, which is a very large market for us,” Dorsey added.

In a reply, Chandrasekhar said that India as a sovereign nation has the right to ensure that its laws are followed by all companies operating in India.

“During the protests in January 2021, there was a lot of misinformation and even reports of genocide which were definitely fake. The government was obligated to remove misinformation from the platform because it had the potential to further inflame the situation based on fake news,” explained the Minister.

“Such was the level of partisan behaviour on Twitter under Jack regime, that they had a problem removing misinformation from the platform in India, when they did it themselves when similar events took place in the US,” he said.

According to the Minister, there is ample evidence now in public domain about Jack’s Twitter’s “arbitrary, blatantly partisan and discriminatory conduct and misuse of its power on its platform during that period”.

“Twitter under Dorsey was not just violating Indian law, but was partisan in how it was using ‘de-amplify’ and deplatforming of some arbitrarily in violation of Articles 14,19 of our constitution and also assisting in weaponising of misinformation,” he further said.

“All social media intermediaries operating in India have to comply with laws to ensure that the internet is safe, trusted and accountable,” said the Minister.

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