October 1, 2022

Indian Police Visit Twitter’s Office After Politician’s Tweet Is Labeled as Misleading

Indian police visited

Twitter Inc.’s

office in New Delhi to investigate the company’s labeling of tweets from a ruling party spokesman as misleading, the government’s latest move against U.S. tech platforms amid criticism over its handling of the pandemic.

Sambit Patra, a spokesman for Prime Minister

Narendra Modi’s

Bharatiya Janata Party, in posts last week shared what he said was a document from the main opposition party purporting to show instructions for criticizing Mr. Modi’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. India has in recent weeks reported record highs of daily cases and deaths, making it the world’s worst current outbreak.

Twitter appended a label to Mr. Patra’s tweets stating that they contained “manipulated media.” A company policy prohibits the posting of images or videos that Twitter determines may be doctored and could cause harm.

The Delhi police, which report to India’s Home Ministry, said in a statement late Monday that they visited the social media company’s local office to investigate the tweets’ labeling. “It appears that Twitter has some information which is not known to us on the basis of which they have classified it as such,” the Delhi police said in the statement.

The Indian National Congress, the main opposition party, has said the documents Mr. Patra posted are forged. The party on Tuesday released a letter addressed to Twitter in which it highlighted tweets referring to the documents from several other senior government officials, asking Twitter to apply the same labeling to those posts.

Police barricades are seen in front of the gate of Twitter’s office in New Delhi Tuesday.



Photo:

prakash singh/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Images released by news organizations in India showed several men in vests labeled “Special Cell Delhi Police” standing outside the glass doors of Twitter’s office. It couldn’t be determined whether or not police entered Twitter’s office.

A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment. Mr. Patra and a representative for the Prime Minister’s Office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The police action comes as India has been taking steps to exert control over U.S. tech firms in the country. India’s government last month ordered Twitter,

Facebook Inc.

and Instagram to block about 100 social media posts criticizing its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, sparking public anger and allegations of censorship.

Twitter introduced the “manipulated media” label last year as part of rules against misinformation and has applied them to a video of

Joe Biden

circulated by one of then-President Trump’s top aides.

Some in India called the government’s move heavy-handed.

U.S. Tech Companies in India

Read more on India’s moves on tech firms, selected by editors.

“An action to serve a notice can be done through email and post,” said Apar Gupta, executive director of New Delhi-based Internet Freedom Foundation, a digital-rights organization. But using police to do so could create a sense of threat, he said.

Raman Jit Singh Chima, a New Delhi-based executive at Access Now, a nonprofit that advocates for a free internet, said on Twitter that the move reflected “Blatant authoritarianism.”

The Journal reported in March that India’s government has threatened to jail employees of Twitter, Facebook and its WhatsApp unit in direct response to the companies’ reluctance to comply with data and takedown requests.

Twitter earlier this year blocked, unblocked, and blocked again hundreds of accounts in India for posting material that New Delhi deemed inflammatory during long-running protests by farmers.

India’s Covid-19 crisis has resulted in record numbers of cases and deaths. WSJ breaks down the chain of events that led to the fastest-growing wave of infection since the pandemic started, and what it means for the world. Photo: Samuel Rajkumar/Reuters

In February, New Delhi set out sprawling new rules to govern online platforms like Twitter and Facebook, along with Facebook’s WhatsApp service. It said the new guidelines were needed to counter increasing amounts of false news and incendiary content online in the country, which is a major source of users and potential growth for the American companies. Those rules come into effect for some tech firms beginning this week.

The move by police to visit Twitter’s office “should be viewed alongside the timing and the larger operational environment,” said Mr. Gupta of the Internet Freedom Foundation. The new internet rules will “increase further government control on online speech,” he said.

Write to Newley Purnell at [email protected]

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

in Tech
Related Posts

Sexting Among Kids Is Bigger Than Ever—and Often Illegal. Here’s How to Talk to Your Child.

June 5, 2021

June 5, 2021

Lauren Anjema was in sixth grade the first time a boy asked her to send him a nude photo of...

Bill Gates Left Microsoft Board Amid Probe Into Prior Relationship With Staffer

May 17, 2021

May 17, 2021

Microsoft Corp. board members decided that Bill Gates needed to step down from its board in 2020 as they pursued...

Big-Tech Critics Regroup in Push to Reshape Facebook

June 30, 2021

June 30, 2021

Critics of big tech firms cheered after prosecutors and lawmakers made moves against Facebook Inc. Recent developments have underscored the...

U.S. Retrieves Millions in Ransom Paid to Colonial Pipeline Hackers

June 7, 2021

June 7, 2021

WASHINGTON—U.S. authorities have recovered millions of dollars in digital currency paid to the hackers who hit a major East Coast...

Apple’s Fight for Control Over Apps Moves to Congress and EU

June 23, 2021

June 23, 2021

Apple Inc. is stepping up its fight to maintain tight controls over which apps can be installed onto customers’ iPhones,...

You’re Going Back to the Office. Here Is What Your Day Might Look Like.

May 29, 2021

May 29, 2021

It’s 6 a.m., Monday, somewhere in America, and Jane Q. Office Worker’s alarm goes off. She’s tempted to hit the...

Instagram Opens Up to Help Businesses Handle Customer Service

June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021

Companies large and small are increasingly reliant on outside providers to manage their customer communications, enabling consumers to reach businesses...

Bitcoin Price Slips on Elon Musk’s Breakup Meme Tweet

June 4, 2021

June 4, 2021

Bitcoin, dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies skidded Friday, extending their monthlong rout, following another cryptic tweet from Elon Musk. Bitcoin was...

Ford Expects 40% of Global Vehicle Volume to Be Fully Electric By 2030

May 26, 2021

May 26, 2021

Ford unveiled the new all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck at an event in Dearborn, Mich., May 19. Photo: Dominick Sokotoff/Zuma...

Instagram Boss to Testify in Congress on Child Safety Issues

November 24, 2021

November 24, 2021

The head of Instagram is scheduled to testify before Congress next month to respond to mounting questions about the app’s...

Warehouses Look to Robots to Fill Labor Gaps, Speed Deliveries

May 24, 2021

May 24, 2021

The robots are coming to labor-strapped North American warehouses. Growing numbers of self-driving machines are shuttling clothing and sports equipment...

Tesla Drivers Test Autopilot’s Limits, Attracting Audiences—and Safety Concerns

May 20, 2021

May 20, 2021

Param Sharma, 25, has posted multiple videos to Instagram in which he appears to operate a Tesla while in the...

For DoorDash and Uber Eats, the Future Is Everything in About an Hour

May 31, 2021

May 31, 2021

DoorDash Inc.’s DASH -1.66% and Uber Eats’ ambitions are bigger than your lunch. They are after a whole new category...

Best Tech Gifts 2021: Our Favorite Gadgets

November 14, 2021

November 14, 2021

The global chip shortage posed a unique challenge for our annual list of the most gift-worthy tech products—especially when it...

Apple’s Annual Developer Conference Caps a Tense Year

June 7, 2021

June 7, 2021

Apple Inc.’s AAPL 1.90% annual conference for software developers begins Monday. It arrives with something unusual for the iPhone maker:...