Twitter has come under heavy fire in India after the social media site looked to have arbitrarily suspended/block accounts of users who were opposed to the ruling majority in India. Recently, a prominent user, India’s Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde’s account was suspended on two separate occasions by Twitter.
While on the first occasion, Hegde’s account was suspended because he had uploaded August Landmesser’s iconic photo as the cover image which Twitter said was one of “hateful imagery”. Although protests from fellow users and Hegde’s followers forced the social media site to restore Hegde’s account, it blocked the account again within a day for another perceived violation of its rules this time for tweeting a poem, “Hang Him”.
Despite requests, Twitter is said to have informed Hegde via email that his account would not be restored until he would delete the tweet (with the poem) in question. Hedge’s refusal to do so meant that his account has since remained suspended.
Hegde has moved the court against Twitter, and has asked the company to not only end the embargo on his account through its suspension but also tender him an apology for the damage repairing of his reputation. Although Hegde’s account remains suspended, several users announced that they would stop their activity on Twitter for a day in solidarity with Hegde.
Many even announced their migration to a newer social media entity Mastodon. In reply to the stand-off, Twitter India announced – in a thread of tweets – on 7th November that there was no bias towards certain accounts by the company.
“There’s been a lot of discussions this week about Twitter's perceived bias in India. To be clear, whether it's the development of policies, product features, or enforcement of our Rules, we are impartial and do not take action based upon any ideology or political viewpoint”.
The next tweet said, “Twitter’s commitment to inclusion and diversity is fundamental to who we are and crucial to the effectiveness of our service. Voices from across the spectrum can be seen and heard on Twitter and we are committed to the principles of openness, transparency, and impartiality”.
The final tweet also addressed the subject of arbitrary instances of verified users despite Twitter reiterating that it has stopped issuing verifications. “As we have stated several times, our public verification process is closed.
While we are reviewing the entire program, on a limited case-by-case basis we do verify public figures who are active in the public conversation”.