Twitter censors 52 tweets critical of India’s handling of COVID-19 at request of Indian government

At the request of the Indian government, Twitter has censored 52 Tweets that are critical of India’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, following a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases only two months after the virus had almost disappeared in India.

Twitter has censored over 50 Tweets that pertain to the Indian government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. While India instituted some of the strictest lockdowns in the world last year and successfully curbed the COVID-19 spread, the government removed almost all restrictions in early 2021, leading to the current surge. In the last few weeks, India has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases that has left its hospitals pleading for oxygen, medicine, and beds. Social media has been inundated with stories of Indian residents dying outside hospitals while they wait to get inside and people driving from town to town with COVID patients on oxygen tanks in their cars looking for an open hospital bed.

A viral photo shows two patients to a bed in one Delhi hospital because the 300 COVID beds are not enough. Indian law prohibits the distribution of any material that defames or otherwise appears derogatory toward the government, or might incite violence. In response to some of the Tweets put out, the Indian government issued an emergency order to Twitter on Friday to censor 52 particular Tweets pertaining to the government’s handling of the pandemic and the current surge. The Tweets will no longer be visible to users in India.

Twitter put out a statement regarding the censoring of the Tweets, saying “When we receive a valid legal request, we review it under both the Twitter Rules and local law. If the content violates Twitter’s Rules, the content will be removed from the service,” according to the Twitter spokesperson. “If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of the Twitter Rules, we may withhold access to the content in India only. In all cases, we notify the account holder directly so they’re aware that we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account.”




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