Twitter Agrees To Block Tweets Critical Of India’s Government’s COVID-19 Response

As India reels from a massive surge in cases of COVID-19 that’s crippling the nation, Twitter has agreed to block tweets critical of the government’s handing of the pandemic, Buzzfeed reported Saturday.

The government on Thursday ordered Twitter to block 52 critical tweets, and Twitter complied, according to Buzzfeed. Blocked posts reportedly included those from a state minister, an opposition member of the Indian Parliament, filmmakers, an actor, two journalists and other citizens.

This is one of the tweets that have been blocked in India:

Twitter on Saturday published information about the order to the Lumen database, a Harvard University project that keeps track of government takedown notices. It was first reported by Indian website Medianama.

A Twitter statement to Medianama was unclear about why the company blocked the tweets. It said only that when the company receives a “valid legal request, we review it under both the Twitter Rules and local law,” and may block tweets for either reason. It did not clarify whether or not the tweets were somehow illegal, or how they may have violated Twitter rules. 

Twitter informed people whose posts were blocked, and explained that the company was responding to an order from the Indian government, according to the statement.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been harshly criticized for the dire surge in cases amid his continued mass political rallies of maskless, jam-packed supporters. He enacted no restrictions as hundreds of thousands gathered for the Kumbh Mela Hindu pilgrimage earlier this month that turned into a predictable super spreader event.

The health care system is collapsing amid the crush of people with COVID-19, and many hospitals have run out of oxygen, leaving critical patients to suffocate. Drones have captured horrific scenes of mass cremations.

India currently has the highest number of daily infections in the world. The nation had 346,786 new cases on Friday and 2,624 deaths. 

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