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Twitter accused of censorship in India

A sign attached to Twitter's global headquarters is viewed from a sidewalk on Market Street in San Francisco, California. June 18, 2014. (Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk/Creative Commons)
A sign attached to Twitter’s global headquarters is viewed from a sidewalk on Market Street in San Francisco, California. June 18, 2014. (Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk/Creative Commons)

Criticism continues to mount at social media platform Twitter, with the latest round involving the company’s apparent blocking of prominent journalists, activists, politicians and lawmakers in India.

The blocks came at the request of the government of India amid a larger crackdown on Internet activity while local authorities continue to search for a Amritpal Singh, a Sikh leader who is calling for a separate religious state.

Late last month, government officials in India requested a shutdown of some Internet-based services while the manhunt for Singh continues, a move that crippled some businesses who rely on text messaging, social media and payment processing platforms.

The online crackdown came after self-proclaimed supporters of Singh were filmed vandalizing the India consulate offices in San Francisco and London in March, The Guardian reported.

Twitter has faced mounting criticism for its ever-changing operations following technology mogul Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform last October. However, the blockade in India appears to be consistent with the way Twitter has operated in foreign countries over the last few years.

Officials at Twitter have long said the company complies with local laws in the countries where they operate, though there has been occasional pushback when a government request appears to overreach. India is one of the largest markets for Twitter by user base, behind only the United States and Japan.

Twitter began restricting access to dozens of accounts in late March, with journalists, politicians and other prominent figures receiving e-mail notices that their profiles were not available to users in India based on a government order.

Jaskaran Sandhu, a Canadian who co-founded the publication Baaz News, was one such journalist who received an e-mail from Twitter about the issue. Sandhu responded in an interview with the Guardian, coloring Twitter’s action as the latest example that proved “civil liberties and democratic rights are under attack” in India.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is an award-winning journalist with more than 10 years of experience covering the business of television and radio broadcasting, streaming services and the overall media industry. In addition to his work as publisher of The Desk, Matthew contributes regularly to StreamTV Insider and KnowTechie, and has worked for several well-known news organizations, including Thomson Reuters, McNaughton Newspapers, Grasswire, Comstock's magazine, KTXL-TV and KGO-TV. Matthew is a member of IRE, a trade organization for investigative reporters and editors, and is based in Northern California.

Email: [email protected] | Signal: 530-507-8380