There has been a rise of more than 48,000 percent in legal demands being made by India — from various courts and the government — to remove content from Twitter between 2014 and 2020, an analysis of Twitter’s global transparency reports shows. Incidentally, in the same time period, the number of content blocking orders issued to social media companies by the government has also increased by almost 2,000 percent, data shared with Parliament showed, highlighting the growing trend of online censorship in India.
Minister of State for Electronics
According to data shared in the Lok Sabha by former Minister of State for Electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre, the government ordered social media companies to remove 9,849 links from their platforms under Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act. Information from 2000, in 2020, compared to 471 such requests made in 2014, an increase of 1,991 percent.
According to Twitter’s global transparency reports, during the same period, India made legal requests to remove 12,373 pieces of content from the microblogging platform, of which more than 9,000 requests were made in 2020 alone. fourth place in issuing blocking orders between 2014 and 2020, after Japan, which made more than 55,000 such requests; Turkey, which made nearly 50,000 applications; and Russia, which ordered the removal of more than 36,000 tweets.
Twitter to block just over 4,900 tweets
Outside of that time frame, in the first six months of 2021, several Indian courts and the government asked Twitter to block just over 4,900 tweets; this coincided with the blocking of more than 250 accounts by the company in connection with the exchange of “provocative” information. tweets about the ongoing peasant protests at the time and the company being ordered by the government to remove some tweets critical of the handling of COVID-19.
Last week Twitter confirmed that India had directed it to locally censor accounts and dozens of posts, including some talking about declining internet freedom in the world’s biggest democracy.
Others were accounts operated by the Pakistani government, sparking an angry response from Islamabad.
Twitter and the Indian government declined to comment on the court case.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has sought in recent years to have more control over the content on social media in India, where Twitter has over 20 million users.
Last year as India saw massive anti-government protests by farmers, Twitter was ordered to take down dozens of accounts for supporting the demonstrations.
But the US firm reinstated them, angering the government.
By the way, on Facebook, demolitions have had a downward trend. For example, in 2014, the company blocked more than 10,000 pieces of content, which further increased to more than 30,000 blocked links on the platform.
However, in both 2019 and 2020, no more than 2,100 links were blocked on the platform, according to its transparency reports. In these two years, the company removed content following government orders, including content against state security and public order.