Twitter refused to comply with an Indian government order banning more than 250 accounts and posts that put the social media giant at the center of a political storm in one of its key markets.
Government officials, business people, and ordinary Internet users are divided over freedom of expression and US corporation’s practices regarding compliance with orders.
The standoff began after the company this week refused to “comply and comply” with an order to delete posts and accounts the government said carried the risk of inciting violence.
The standoff is the latest example of deteriorating relations between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration and US social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.
For Twitter, the stakes are high in a country of 1.3 billion people, of whom millions use it, as Modi, his cabinet members, and other leaders use it enthusiastically to communicate with the public.
Farmers are staging an escalating protest against the new agricultural laws, with tens of thousands staying in camps on the outskirts of New Delhi and road closures across the country on Saturday.
As the protracted crisis escalated, the government sought this week to block the hashtag “provocative” on Twitter saying “Modi plans to genocide farmers” and dozens of other accounts.
Twitter initially complied but later restored most of the accounts, stating “there was not enough justification” for the comments to continue.
And the Ministry of Technology warned, “Twitter“, in a letter seen by Reuters, of legal “consequences” that may include fines or imprisonment, saying that the government is not obligated to justify its demand to block accounts.