Government’s Notice to Twitter: Why Twitter’s actions are justified?

Synopsis: Twitter has acted with reason after defying the Indian government’s legal orders. It didn’t implement the order fully and this action is desirable despite the criticism.


Twitter did not act in accordance with the Indian government’s orders under Section 69A of the IT Act. It was required to block hundreds of accounts under the order. 

However, Twitter has said that the list had accounts of journalists, activists, and politicians. Twitter believes that blocking these accounts would not be fair to Indian law and the platform’s contract objectives.

  • This defiance has not gone down well with the government. Independent verifications revealed that many accounts did not post messages suggesting a genocide plan but supported farmers’ protest. 

What were the criticisms against Twitter?

Twitter witnessed criticism on multiple grounds such as: 

  1. Firstly, Twitter’s refusal shows a lack of respect for Indian law because it is bound by legal orders of the government under the Act.
  2. Secondly, Twitter is a private company, and it cannot decide what is proportionate or lawful. Twitter can challenge the order in a court, but cannot choose to comply partially.
  3. Thirdly, Twitter’s decision indicates that it is denying parity to India with the U.S. The platform blocked Donald Trump’s account but refusing to block users in India.
  4. Fourthly, its defiance indicates the increasing power and liberty of Big Tech. It requires a clear and plain zero-tolerance response.

Why Twitter’s actions are justified?

  1. The tension between government and social media platforms is healthy and constructive. It keeps a balance, which was not possible if both were on the same side.
  2. Following government orders blindly will seriously impact twitter’s audience’s fundamental rights. Twitter has also a responsibility to ensure people’s right to free and informed speech.
  3. Big Techs has often sided with the government hurting its users’ rights. For instance, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook India failed to act on provocative posts of a member of the ruling party. It is good that Big techs are thinking about users. 
  4. Twitter didn’t ban Trump’s account all of a sudden despite the repeated promotion of lies. His account was spreading misinformation during the Capitol Hill riot.  Before suspending his account, Twitter tried to flag his content and limit its reach. A permanent ban was the last step. Demanding a direct ban is against this process of twitter. 
  5. The current incident is among the rare instances that Twitter has given equivalence to its Indian audience with that of its U.S.’s. Twitter chose to take an independent view of the matter and not blindly complied with the wishes of the government.

Way forward

  • The attempt to extend similar safeguards to Indian users as the US users enjoy is a welcome step. That would also be consistent with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by the UNHRC.
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