The journey of Twitter in India over the past year has not been an easy one. The first half of the year saw Twitter cross swords with the government on several issues. Things calmed down later on, but now, it faces an ultimatum – follow the laws of the land or leave.
This ultimatum was given by the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The reason? The popular micro-blogging platform failed to comply with a previous HC order and take down abusive content against the judiciary, which had been posted on its platform and has been live for quite some time.
Let us delve a little deeper. Back in November 2020, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had ordered the CBI to investigate social media comments that have allegedly been posted by supporters and leaders of the YSR Congress Party against the court and some judges following a few judgments. As the investigation proceeded, the CBI asked Twitter to remove the derogatory contents.
Instead of doing so, the micro-blogging platform did not comply with the order. This is unlike other platforms like Facebook and YouTube, which have removed such abusive content from their platforms.
Unsurprisingly, it has earned the ire of the court which issued a stern warning and said that it was a clear contempt of court. According to assistant solicitor general SV Raju, who was appearing for the CBI, Twitter removed content from handles of individuals who had declared their nationality to be Indian, but the same was not done for individuals who declared their nationality as that of foreign countries despite being Indian residents.
If that is not all, criminal proceedings against Twitter for not complying with the order are not off the cards as well. Now, it has to provide the court with an explanation as to why “cease-and-desist” orders should not be given to it before the next hearing, which will be held on February 7.
The Andhra HC bench, comprising of Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice M Satyanarayana Murthy, said, “During the last hearing, we gave clear orders that the objectionable content be removed forthwith. Failure to do so amounts to contempt of court. If you have to continue your services, you have to necessarily respect the laws of the land. Otherwise, close your shop down.”