India objects to ‘manipulated’ label on politicians tweets

The Indian government has expressed strong objection to Twitter for classifying certain tweets by Indian politicians as “manipulated media,” according to a notice leaked to many journalists Friday.

The incident comes hours after Twitter labeled a tweet from Sambit Patra, the spokesperson of India’s ruling party BJP, as “manipulated media.” In the tweet, Patra had claimed that Congress, the leading opposition party in India, was using a so-called “toolkit” to derail the Indian government’s efforts against the coronavirus pandemic.

The notice hasn’t mentioned any politician by name nor has it identified any tweets.

In its notice to Twitter, the Indian government said Twitter chose to designate tweets as “manipulated” even as an investigation hadn’t been conducted and “asked” Twitter to remove such tags in the interest of “fairness and equity.”

India, the world’s second largest internet market, is a key region for many American technology firms including Twitter.

Twitter’s action, the Indian government said, dilutes its credibility as a “neutral and unbiased” platform as well as puts a “question mark on the status of Twitter as an ‘Intermediary.’ Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media firm with over 5 million users are identified as an “intermediary” in India, according to a recently unveiled law.

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

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