Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey testifies remotely during the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing 'Does Section 230's Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?', on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 28 October 2020. EFE-EPA/Greg Nash / POOL

Dorsey alleges India targeted critics on Twitter, government says ‘outright lie’

New Delhi, June 13 (EFE).- Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey caused a stir on Tuesday, claiming that India had threatened to shut down the social media platform and conduct raids on its employees’ homes in the country due to posts criticizing the government during the 2020 farmers’ protests.

Dorsey, who stepped down as Twitter’s CEO in 2021, made these remarks during an interview with a US-based YouTube channel on Monday, US time, saying India had requested the removal of numerous tweets and accounts related to the protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s now-revoked controversial pro-market agricultural reforms.

“India is a country that had many requests around farmers’ protests to control journalists that were critical of the government and it manifested in ways such as ‘we will shut Twitter down in India,’ which is a very large market for us,” Dorsey said.

He said the government threatened that they would “raid the homes” of Twitter employees “which they did.”

“We will shut down your offices if you don’t follow suit. And this is India, a democratic country,” he laughed.

Dorsey’s remarks ignited a wave of anger in the country, with accusations that Twitter was violating Indian laws.

Minister of State for Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar vehemently denied Dorsey’s claims, calling them an “outright lie.”

“Twitter was misusing its power as a platform to selectively de-amplify and de-platform people both in India and abroad,” Chandrasekhar said.

“Our government has always maintained that any platform whether that be Twitter or any other platform in India has to protect every Indian citizen’s fundamental rights… and has to be in compliance with Indian law. That is exactly where the government’s views were in 2020 and currently in 2023,” the minister told reporters.

“I am deeply disappointed about Jack Dorsey’s attempt at lying about what happened because certainly his statement is untrue and false.”

Dorsey’s allegations once again drew attention to India’s alleged attempts to silence government critics, including journalists.

In May 2021, the Indian government implemented stricter guidelines to regulate online content, leading to concerns about a potential “threat to freedom of expression” in the country.

At that time, Twitter had expressed concerns about the safety of its staff in India following a police raid on its office in New Delhi.

The new guidelines grant the government more control over online news portals, social media, and video-streaming platforms.

One particular clause requires digital platforms to trace the originators of controversial messages for the “prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution, or punishment of an offense related to the sovereignty and integrity of India.”

India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index dropped from 140th to 161st out of 180 countries in 2023, its lowest position ever. EFE