India demands Twitter take down tweets critical of Covid handling

Coronavirus-mired country makes emergency order to censor dissentious posts

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India asked Twitter to take down dozens of tweets criticising its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as cases in the country on Saturday hit a global record for the third straight day.

Twitter withheld some of the tweets after the legal request by the Indian government, a company spokeswoman told Reuters on Saturday.

The government made an emergency order to censor the tweets, Twitter disclosed on Lumen database, a Harvard University project.

In the government's legal request, dated April 23 and disclosed on Lumen, 21 tweets were mentioned.

Among them were tweets from Revnath Reddy, a member of parliament from the state of Telangana, Moloy Ghatak, a minister in the state of West Bengal and Avinash Das, a filmmaker.

The law cited in the government's request was the Information Technology Act, 2000.

"When we receive a valid legal request, we review it under both the Twitter Rules and local law," the Twitter spokeswoman said.

"If the content violates Twitter's rules, the content will be removed from the service. 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," she said.

The spokeswoman confirmed that Twitter had notified account holders directly about withholding their content and let them know that it received a legal order pertaining to their tweets.

The development was reported earlier by technology news website TechCrunch, which said that Twitter was not the only platform affected by the order.

India is in the grip of a rampaging second wave of the pandemic, hitting a rate of one Covid death in just under every four minutes in Delhi as the capital's underfunded health system buckles.


The number of cases across the country rose by 346,786 to reach 16.6 million, the health ministry said on Saturday. Covid deaths rose by 2,624 to a total of 189,544, according to Saturday's figures.


Health experts said India became complacent in the winter when new cases were running at about 10,000 a day and seemed to be under control. Authorities lifted restrictions, allowing the resumption of big gatherings, including large festivals such as Kumbh Mela and political rallies for local elections.

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