Fear of censorship in India has reached new heights. Everybody seems to be scared of the Modi government. Microblogging site Twitter and other social media platforms have recently removed about 50 posts and URLs after the Centre’s legal request to remove content that was critical of the handling of the current medical crisis or spreading fake news around the COVID outcry.

The posts that have been taken down were reportedly criticizing the government for poor handling of the Covid-19 crisis in the country amid the second wave of the coronavirus. The tweets threw light on the Centre’s inefficiency to manage the increasing COVID cases in India. It also threw light on the crumbling healthcare system and the zero support the govt. has shown to tackle it.

 While Facebook refrained from commenting on the issue, Twitter said it has informed the impacted account holders of the action taken in response to a legal request from the Indian government.

Did the tweets and posts disrespect the Indian government?

In the past, many journalists and news channels have borne the brunt of going against the Modi government. We all know Narendra Modi relies on social media to target his masses and since the platforms are used globally, he is quite careful of his image. He doesn’t want the global population to know the reality, and does everything to project himself as a truthful, hardworking leader.

Twitter Removes Tweet

The government had earlier asked the microblogging site to suspend accounts and remove the tweets with the hashtag ‘ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide’. The ban was part of a larger suppression effort to block accounts that cast the government’s handling of the farmers’ protest in a negative light.

The Centre has asked Twitter to remove nearly 1,200 accounts related to farmers’ protest.  The accounts were flagged by security agencies as accounts of Khalistan sympathisers or backed by Pakistan and operating from foreign territories and causing threat to public order in view of the ongoing farmers’ protests in some parts of India.  

It was the on the recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs that the social media channels were asked to remove the tweets to prevent obstructions in the fight against the pandemic.

The request said that some users were abusing social media platforms to spread fake or misleading information and create panic about the pandemic in the society “by using unrelated, old and out of the context images or visuals, communally sensitive posts and misinformation about COVID-19 protocols”.

Although sources said the government is open to criticism and suggestions in the collective fight against COVID-19, the government, however, could not take in the views of the general public as they provided the true image of the Indian healthcare system.

Double Standards of Twitter

It seems now that Twitter has double standards, i.e., while in the West, the public has the freedom to silence populist, in India, it is still under the control of the government who can go to any extent to suppress its critics, even the voters at large only to maintain the positive image in the eyes of the world.