Twitter Decries India Intimidation, Will Press for Changes
The Twitter Inc. logo is displayed on a phone. (Photographer: Alex Flynn/Bloomberg)

Twitter Decries India Intimidation, Will Press for Changes

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Twitter Inc. called the visit by police to its Indian offices on Monday a form of intimidation in its first public comments on the matter.

The social network reiterated its commitment to India as a vital market, but signaled its growing concern about the government’s recent actions and potential threats to freedom of expression that may result. The company also joined other international businesses and organizations in criticizing new IT rules and regulations that it said “inhibit free, open public conversation.”

Twitter will continue its dialog with the Indian government for a collaborative approach, while also advocating for change to the regulations.

The San Francisco-based company has disagreed with local government officials on a number of fronts, deeming some enforcement orders to be improper curbs on free speech. Most recently, Twitter marked several posts by accounts associated with India’s ruling party as containing manipulated media -- they purported to show a strategy document from the opposition party whose authenticity has been disputed -- which prompted the police visit to its offices late Monday.

Twitter employees have been working from home since March 2020 and the vast majority of its global offices, including in India, have been shut ever since.

“We are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve,” a spokesperson said. “We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service, as well as with core elements of the new IT Rules. We plan to advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government and believe it is critical to adopt a collaborative approach.”

The Indian government and the Delhi Police, which visited Twitter’s offices, issued separate statements to counter the allegations. The IT ministry termed Twitter’s statement as “totally baseless, false and an attempt to defame India to hide their own follies,” while the police said it was designed to impede a lawful inquiry.

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