The government and Twitter have once again crossed swords after the former objected to micro-blogging site Twitter using the tag “manipulated media” following a tweet by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, and tweets on an alleged “Congress toolkit” which was created to undermine, derail and demean the efforts of the government against COVID-19, calling it “prejudicial, a clear overreach and unwarranted.”
The issue at hand, according to the government is that Twitter could not classify a tweet as such since the matter is still pending before law.
In a letter, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) complained about the tagging, adding that the company’s action not only diluted the credibility of Twitter as a neutral and unbiased platform facilitating the exchange of views by the users but also puts a question mark on the status of Twitter as an Intermediary. The Ministry added that the popular social media platform had unilaterally chosen to go ahead and designate certain tweets as ‘Manipulated’ even before the investigation had ended.
The government asked Twitter to remove the tag in the interest of fairness and equity. After all, the investigation by the proper authorities will determine the veracity of the content, not Twitter.
According to Twitter’s policy on such matters, “You may not deceptively promote synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm. In addition, we may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand their authenticity and to provide additional context.” Tweets that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated fall under this category as well.
Twitter and the government have crossed paths often in recent months, whether it was Twitter showing resilience against the government’s orders to taking down posts that criticized the government’s handling of the pandemic, or its defending of the restoration of the accounts that had tweeted on similar lines.
The current clash is a result of Patra’s tweet on May 18 (which was shared by many leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party), which included screenshots of the “Congress toolkit,” and it will be interesting to see what Twitter’s response is, considering that Congress had written to Twitter alleging that the BJP government abused their power, which has led to the dissemination of “false information and has the potential to cause social unrest in the country.”