Twitter has been banning some of its users recently in response to government orders.
Is this an attack on free speech and democracy?

Twitter has made its own identity when it comes to social media platforms. In recent times it has become a crucial tool for politics around the world where everyone from a common citizen with an internet connection to PrimeMinister of a nation can put their views into the public domain. The platform has always tried to be viewed as a promoter of free speech among the people and has tried to stifle the spread of misinformation by putting warnings or suspending the responsible accounts. The prime example of this was seen recently during the 2020 US presidential elections.

While the platform wants to be seen as a promoter of free speech where people can freely express their opinions, its behaviour varies depending on its geographic operation region. On one hand, in the USA Twitter gained much praise for taking a stand during the latest presidential elections by putting warnings on tweets by the former President Donald Trump where he was seen posting false and unverified claims about the elections. Meanwhile in India, the platform has been suspending and blocking accounts of its users on government orders. Many accounts of individuals, journalists and organizations were withheld in India in response to a legal demand.

The current government of India has been criticized time and again for trying to silence and undermine dissent by exercising its authority. Social media has now become a crucial means for politics and so the government has also been seen trying to gain control of the online media and suspending social media accounts of people vocal about their disagreement with current government policies and Twitter has been the frontrunner for people wishing to voice their political opinions.

This disparity in the way of operations has upset people and the platform has been receiving its fair share of criticism over the same. Witnessing this the platform now seems to be pushing back against the government's demands and trying to restore its faith in people as a promoter of free speech.

The company recently received a legal notice by the government of India for restoring around 250 accounts that had been previously suspended in response to a demand by the Indian government where they were seen promoting a controversial hashtag. The accounts were allegedly blocked “to prevent escalation of violence”. The government has now sent another notice seeking removal of over 1000 accounts claimed to be Pakistani accounts tweeting on farmer protests.

It remains to be seen how the platform will respond to the order and how firmly it believes in the protection of free speech in a democracy.


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