Govt describes step as ‘totally unwarranted’, ‘unilateral’; asks Twitter to reverse it
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet alleging the Congress unleashed “toolkit” to discredit the Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Covid19 handling has been marked as “manipulated media” by Twitter.
The Government has described the step as “totally unwarranted” and “unilateral” and asked Twitter to reverse it “in the interests of fairness and equity”.
The Congress had requested Twitter to remove tweets by the BJP spokesperson and other BJP leaders, citing its police complaint calling the so-called “toolkit” as fake.
Fact-checking website Alt News said the “All India Congress Committee (AICC) Research Department” letterhead on the documents was forged and raised questions on the content, saying the BJP had not shared the originals.
The Government termed the Twitter tagging of Patra’s tweet as “unilateral”, “prejudged and prejudiced” and “totally unwarranted” and “deliberate attempt to colour and influence the “fair investigation” by the local law enforcement agency.
BJP spokesperson’s May 18 tweet had contained screenshots of a purported Congress “toolkit” to allegedly defame the Government and the Prime Minister. By Thursday evening Twitter flagged Patra’s tweet as “manipulated media”.
According to sources, the Union Government has asked Twitter to remove the tag for “tweets on toolkit to defame Government’s Covid-19 efforts” as the matter is pending investigation before a law enforcement agency.
The Centre has sought Twitter “to remove the tags affixed prejudicially to certain tweets in recent days in the interests of fairness and equity... Investigation will determine the veracity of the content, not Twitter,” sources said.
“The Ministry of Electronics and IT has written a strong communication to the global team of Twitter, registering its objection to the use of ‘manipulated media’ tag on certain tweets made by Indian political leaders with reference to a toolkit created to undermine, derail and demean the efforts of the government against the Covid-19 pandemic,” sources added.
In the communication, the Ministry pointed out that one of the parties concerned had complained to the local law enforcement agency questioning the veracity of the toolkit and the same was under investigation. It noted that even as the local law enforcement agency was undertaking the investigation, Twitter had unilaterally drawn a conclusion in this matter and arbitrarily tagged it as ‘Manipulated Media’.
“Such tagging by Twitter appears prejudged, prejudiced and a deliberate attempt to colour the investigation by the local law enforcement agency. The Ministry has termed such unilateral action by Twitter an effort to influence the fair investigation process and a clear overreach, which is totally unwarranted,” sources said.
This action not only diluted the credibility of Twitter as a neutral and unbiased platform facilitating exchange of views by users, but also put a question mark on its status as an “intermediary”, the sources quoted Ministry as observing.