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X objects, but says he will abide by government orders and withhold certain accounts and postings in India

Though it disagreed with the measure, citing the right to free speech, social media site X, previously known as Twitter, stated on Thursday that it would withhold certain accounts and postings in India under the directives of the Indian government.

“X is required under executive orders issued by the Indian government to take action on certain accounts and postings or face severe consequences, including as jail time and large fines. The platform said via its Global Government Affairs account, “We disagree with these measures and believe that freedom of speech should extend to these postings. In line with the directives, we will withhold these accounts and posts in India alone.

“A writ appeal contesting the Indian government’s blocking orders is still pending, in line with our stance,” X continued.

X has filed an appeal against the 2023 ruling of the Karnataka High Court fining the firm ₹50 lakh for failing to abide by the emergency blocking orders that were imposed during the farmers’ protest in 2021.

In 2022, X, which became Twitter, appealed the banning orders in the high court. Before Twitter finally challenged the accounts and connections, it had refused to ban them for more than a year.

“We have also provided the impacted users with notice of these actions in accordance with our policies,” X said in a post on Thursday.

A number of users who have had their posts and accounts restricted in India over the last two weeks said that they did not get emails from X alerting them to the blocking of their material.

X said that it was unable to release the executive directives because of legal limitations. However, we think that openness requires that they be made public. This lack of transparency may result in arbitrary decision-making and a lack of accountability.

Up until April 15, 2023, Twitter gave information about the accounts and links that were blocked in India to the Lumen database, an independent study conducted by Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society that lists court-ordered takedowns and blocking orders for services like Twitter and Google worldwide.

On February 15 and 20, HT reported that two sets of banning orders for social media accounts and sites pertaining to recent farmers’ demonstrations had been issued by the government. The ruling dated February 19th barred 177 accounts and linkages. There are 49 connections and 42 X accounts in them.

On the advice of the Union home ministry, further banning orders were imposed on Wednesday on a number of social networking sites, including YouTube and X. These were routine blocking orders rather than emergency directives. The number of links against which the order has been issued is unknown to HT.

Days after fact-checker Mohammed Zubair stated that several accounts critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party administration in India had been either blocked or suspended, X made his comment about the new banning orders. Numerous powerful X accounts of important agricultural unions, influencers, and reporters on the ground reporting the [new] Farmers Protest in India have also been suspended. transferring many accounts. He included screenshots of withheld accounts to his post on X, saying, “But there are many more X accounts which were suspended or withheld in India.”

The accounts of independent journalists Mandeep Punia and Sandeep Singh, the news site Gaon Savera, Tribal Army, its creator Hansraj Meena, and @tractor2twitr_i, which provided updates on farmers’ demonstrations, were among those included in the images. The accounts of Singh and Punia were also disabled throughout the earlier farmer demonstrations.

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