Twitter could face legal action in India over its failure to assist officials

Twitter could face legal action in India over its failure to assist officials

Twitter has been notably absent from the Indian government’s drive to ‘clean up’ social media, which has seen a series of court cases and high profile comments made against Facebook, Google and others. Now it seems that the microblogging site hasn’t fully escaped the attention of authorities in the country.

Days after India accused Pakistan of spreading ‘disinformation’ using social media, the Internet and SMS, prompting authorities to shut down sites and restrict SMS. Now officials are said to be ready to rein in Twitter, which was identified as another platform used. The aim, Times of India reports, is to prevent further inflammatory messages in northwest of the country — which borders Pakistan — and, more generally, clamp down on content that is offensive to Indian culture.

This month will see the next phase of a suit brought against Facebook and Google for failing to adequately remove objectionable content in the country, which was postponed to August. The legal action, raised by a veteran journalist, originally included more than 10 international Web firms that stood accused of allowing images that degrade Indian gods and public figures to be published to the country’s webspace.

Now, it seems that Twitter could face similar action for its lack of responsiveness on the messages, according to the Times :

A senior government official has said that Twitter has already been told that legal action may be taken against it as it had failed to cooperate with the Indian government in its efforts to find the source of and curtail the inflammatory messages against citizens.

While the company does not have a presence on the ground in India, its response to India’s requests to block objectionable content was described as “poor”.

Any kind of move to filter India-specific content would be difficult given the sheer volume of traffic on the platform. Twitter revealed in March that it sees 140 million active users send 340 million tweets per day. That is irrespective of any kind of real-time filter, which authorities are believed to have sought in the past.

Twitter took steps to allow the censoring of content, using a transparent Google-like method, earlier this year. Its inaugural Transparency Report, released at the end of June, revealed no more than 10 requests for user information had been made in India, of which zero were acted upon.

We reached out to Twitter for comment.

Image via Shutterstock

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