India triggers controversy by asking Twitter to remove covid-related tweets

New Delhi, Apr 26 (EFE).- The Indian government’s decision to ask social network Twitter to delete certain tweets related to Covid-19 has triggered controversy in India, as although the authorities say they are trying to prevent the spread of fake news amid the pandemic’s second wave, others have seen this as a kind of censorship.

Indian authorities urged Twitter to erase at least 21 posts by accounts belonging to politicians, actors or film directors for alleged non-compliance with the Information and Technology Act 2000, according to the website Lumen, which followed orders to remove online content worldwide.

Some of the tweets attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for helping spread the virus by attending massive election campaign events in the middle of the second wave and also for exporting anti-Covid vaccines instead of reserving them for the needs of over 1.35 billion Indians.

““India will never forgive PM @narendramodi for underplaying the corona situation in the country and letting so many people die due to mismanagement. At a time when India is going through a health crisis, PM chose to export millions of vaccine to other nations,” said one of the deleted tweets.

Lumen had last week listed several removal requests to Twitter by the Indian government.

However, government sources told Indian news agency PTI on the condition of anonymity that the accounts were not flagged for criticizing the pandemic’s management but for distributing fake news linked to the coronavirus, for example using old images to spread disinformation and trigger panic among the people.

The controversy comes at a time when India is witnessing a serious health crisis at the peak of the pandemic, with infections crossing 17 million by Monday – including over 195,000 deaths – and hospitals being forced to issue public appeals for procuring oxygen for the serious patients in the face of severe shortages.

This is not the first time that Indian authorities have asked for Twitter accounts to be blocked or tweets to be removed.

In February, the Indian government ordered the social network to block hundreds of accounts over farmers’ protests, which led to tensions between the two bodies as the request was considered to be violating the freedom of expression of users. EFE


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