The Indian Government has censored several Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) parody Twitter accounts, which were being used for humor and criticism. The Government found some of these accounts to be in poor taste, and highly offensive. The Prime Minister himself wrote to Twitter in June, asking it to censor these accounts. However, Twitter being a free-speech enthusiast, probably ignored the request. Recently, the Government got another chance at removing all content criticizing the PMO, and made the most of this opportunity. However, what interests me is that this Twitter cleanup was performed by the Government, when scouring social media for rumors of hatred against Northeastern people. I say, there could not have been a better opportunity to make things right.
A PMO official remarked on this Twitter content filtering, saying,
We are fine with parody, even though at times, it is in bad taste, and there is criticism of the government. However, we cannot allow anyone to misrepresent the PM’s office and tweet nonsense from these accounts.
According to the Government’s claims, both Google and Facebook had confirmed that Pakistan was the origin of all the hatred. The miscreants were using social media to instigate violence, and some of it was spreading through Twitter. However, the Government did not receive any response from Twitter, because there are no Twitter offices in India that the Indian government can work closely with.
The Indian government has already blocked over 400 websites, and restricted bulk SMS facilities, as measures of control against the ongoing tension. Though in the midst of all this ballyhoo, the Government has also blocked several PMO parody accounts. The purportedly blocked Twitter accounts are not blocked by Twitter, but by ISPs in India. The Department of Telecom is leaving no stone unturned to restrict the usage of media that can be used to spread rumors and create nuisance. Though surprisingly, the blocked account of PMOIndia is back as a new account on Twitter, and it is gathering followers rapidly.