Dorsey says Twitter faced pressure during ryots' stir; Govt terms it 'outright lie'
NEW DELHI: Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in sensational allegations claimed the Indian government threatened to shut Twitter down unless it complied with orders to restrict accounts during farmers' protest, an accusation Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar dismissed as an "outright lie".
In an interview, Dorsey, who quit as Twitter CEO in 2021, claimed that the Indian government "pressured" the company with threats of a shutdown and raids on employees if it did not comply with requests to take down posts and restrict accounts that were critical of the government over the protest by farmers against new agri laws in 2020 and 2021.
Rubbishing the claims, the Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that Dorsey's Twitter regime "had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law".
"No one went to jail nor was Twitter 'shutdown'," Chandrasekhar said. "This is an outright lie by @jack - perhaps an attempt to brush out that very dubious period of twitters history."
In the longish post, he then went on to cite what the government saw as non-compliance with the local laws governing social media platforms.
"Facts and truth - @twitter under Dorsey and his team were in repeated in continuous violations of India law. As a matter of fact, they were in non-compliance with the law repeatedly from 2020 to 2022 and it was only June 2022 when they finally complied," he said. "It behaved as if the laws of India did not apply to it."
Opposition parties quickly latched on to Dorsey's comments to attack the government.
Congress said when farmers were protesting, the "coward dictator sitting in Delhi was trying to suppress this news."
"Be aware, 733 farmers were martyred in this movement and the dictator was engaged in polishing his image on their dead bodies," it tweeted.
Rajya Sabha MP and leader of Shiv Sena-UBT Priyanka Chaturvedi replying to Chandrasekhar's tweet, said the law Twitter broke was to "allow hate speech and rabid BJP agenda."
India as a sovereign nation, Chandrasekhar said, has the right to ensure that its laws are followed by all companies operating in India.
"During the protests in January 2021, there was a lot of misinformation and even reports of genocide which were definitely fake.
The minister charged Twitter with not complying with requests to take down tweets spreading misinformation.
"Such was the level of partisan behaviour on Twitter under Jack regime, that they had a problem removing misinformation from the platform in India, when they did it themselves when similar events took place in the USA," he said.
"There is ample evidence now in public domain abt Jacks twitter's arbitrary, blatantly partisan n discriminatory conduct and misuse of its power on its platform during that period," he said.
Twitter under Dorsey was not just violating Indian laws but was partisan in how it was using "deamplify" and deplatforming of some arbitrarily in violation of the constitution and also assisting in weaponising of misinformation, he said.
"To set the record straight, no one was raided or sent to jail. Our focus was only on ensuring the compliance of Indian laws," Chandrasekhar said. "Our govts policies remain clear for all Intermediaries operating in India - compliance with laws to ensure the Internet is Safe and Trusted, Accountable".
Dorsey made the sensational allegation in an interview with the YouTube news show Breaking Points on Monday.
"It manifested in ways such as: 'We will shut Twitter down in India', which is a very large market for us; 'we will raid the homes of your employees', which they did; And this is India, a democratic country," he said talking about pressure Twitter under him faced from the Indian government.
The Indian government has repeatedly denied engaging in online censorship.
"Twitter under Dorsey n his team were in repeated n continuous violations of Indian law. Say MoS IT. Lol! Yeah the law they broke was to allow hate speech and rabid BJP agenda. But there was no crackdown or compliance issues since it supported their agenda. The minute people and opposition started to fight back using the platform, the government started to crackdown! So please, spare this little sermon," Chaturvedi tweeted.
She went on to state that Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, has "on record spoken about GoI's multiple requests to take down content/ suspend accounts that goes against his own belief regarding absolute FoS
"The BJP and the government tried to crush the farmers' protest, They tried to defame the movement, They called farmers terrorists, They called farmers anti-national, They lathi-charged the farmers, They let farmers die,
"They tried to silence the opposition in parliament, They tried to arm-twist social media platforms to mute the voices of those supporting the farmers... but despite their might, despite their power, the farmers humbled their arrogance and forced the government to withdraw the farmers act. Indian democracy or rule of Modiocracy?," she added.