The Centre has asked Twitter to remove 1,178 Pakistani-Khalistani accounts for spreading misinformation and provocative content around farmers’ protests. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology shared a list of 1,178 Twitter accounts that were flagged by security agencies as accounts of Khalistan sympathisers or backed by Pakistan, which were causing a threat to public order.
The latest direction comes days after the Centre asked it to block 250 accounts spreading misinformation and spreading hashtags like “farmers genocide” on the popular social media platform. Twitter is yet to completely comply with the Centre’s orders.
However, it’s not yet clear whether Twitter is fully compliant with the order and will take action against flagged accounts by the government. Twitter’s CEO Jark Dorsey, however, is clearly aware of the ongoing farmers’ protest, as he had ‘liked’ several tweets by international celebrities in support of the farmers.
Sources said that Twitter is yet to comply with the directions issued under Section 69A of the IT Act. The recent demand has been made by the IT ministry after it received the advisory from the Home Ministry and other security agencies. Twitter has not responded on the demands so far.
On February 4, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had shared a flagged list of ‘Pak-based’ as well as ‘Khalistani’ accounts, operating from outside India for allegedly threatening public order amid the national outrage against farm bills. “Many of these accounts were also automated bots that were used for sharing and amplifying misinformation and provocative contents on farmers’ protests,” the source added.
This comes just a week after it had sent a list of 257 Twitter handles and a list of tweets to be blocked for similar reasons. The platform had blocked and subsequently unblocked these accounts unilaterally, after a few hours.
The direction to block these accounts has been made on the ground that they may cause a threat to public order amid the ongoing farmers’ protests in the country. The microblogging site has been under the lens of the IT ministry for “violating Indian law” by not acting against those spreading misinformation on “farmers protests”.
Thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, are staging a sit-in protest along Delhi’s borders for more than 75 days. The farmers are demanding a complete rollback of the three new agriculture reform laws and a guarantee on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system being retained.
Multiple rounds of talks between the Centre and the farmers’ union leaders have ended in a stalemate. Protesting farmers fear that the new laws will dismantle the MSP system and corporatise farming.