Whenever Twitter has run into trouble with governments
The Standing Committee on Information and Technology asked Twitter India why accounts belonging to IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and committee chair Shashi Tharoor have been locked, albeit briefly. Twitter was asked to respond to the issue in writing within two days.
Twitter India’s troubles in India, however, do not end there. Shortly after securing temporary redress from the Karnataka High Court in connection with the false account spread on a viral video of a beaten 72-year-old man, India’s Twitter chief Manish Maheshwari was appointed to an FIR in the ‘Uttar Pradesh on a map on the website of the social media platform which features Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as a separate country.
Although the card has been removed from the career section of Twitter’s website, the social media platform’s problems with India and many other countries don’t appear to be ending anytime soon.
Let’s take a look at the countries where Twitter has come into conflict with governments:
Nigeria: The government of Nigeria has suspended Twitter indefinitely after the social media platform deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari, warning residents of southeast Nigeria, primarily the Igbo people, of a possible recurrence of the civil war of Biafra in 1967, which lasted 30 months.
Accusing Twitter of having an agenda, Nigerian Information Minister Lai Mohammad said Twitter had not deleted the âviolent tweets that Nnamdi Kanu had sentâ. Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), pushed for the establishment of an independent state for the people of the former eastern region of Nigeria through an independent referendum.
Nigeria accuses Twitter of double standards and supports secessionists. Nigeria’s protests against the end of SARS, which oppose police brutality in the country, had their origins and growth through Twitter. Nigeria has around 40 million users on Twitter.
China: The country blocked Twitter in March 2009. The blockade was put in place after riots broke out between Uyghur Muslims in China and Chinese authorities. While authorities have cracked down on people who circumvent the ban, many people continue to use it through a virtual private network (VPN). The Chinese Foreign Ministry also maintains a Twitter account, while a number of Chinese embassies and diplomats are active on Twitter.
Iran: Twitter was banned in the country in 2009 following the violent consequences of Iran’s presidential elections. Iran has banned the microblogging platform for fear that protests will be staged on the platform.
Twitter was unblocked for one day in September 2013 due to a technical error but was blocked again the next day. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, however, is active on Twitter and regularly shares his opinions and comments, which are often inflammatory in nature.
In January 2021, Twitter banned an account believed to be linked to Khamenei after posting an image threatening former U.S. President Donald Trump. In the image, Trump is seen playing golf with the shadow of a giant drone behind him. The caption “Revenge is certain” is written in Farsi on it.
The account is said to be linked to Khamenei as his actions mirror those of other accounts managed by the leader’s office. Khamenei had said he was taking revenge on those responsible for the attack.
Egypt: Social media played a pivotal role during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spilled over into Arab nations in 2010-11. As countries rose to counter the protests, Egypt blocked social media platforms, including Twitter Facebook, Google and Hotmail. Twitter, however, did not disclose who was responsible for the blockage.
Turkey: In 2014, Turkey banned Twitter for two weeks, after former Turkish prime minister and current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to root out the microblogging platform, as he spoke at a rally electoral. While Twitter has reached out to its users with instructions on how to bypass the ban using Turkish and English text messaging services, Turkish users have also flouted the ban using VPNs.
Even the country’s former president, Abdullah Gul, openly criticized the ban via his Twitter account. He tweeted: âShutting down an entire social platform is unacceptable. Also, as I have said many times before, it is technically impossible to completely shut down communications technologies like Twitter. I hope this measure will not last long. “
In January 2021, Twitter also faced an advertising ban in the country after Turkey passed its social media law last year. Twitter has announced that it will create a legal entity to be able to continue operating in the country.
By law, social media platforms and businesses with more than one million users will be required to appoint official representatives or face fines and advertising bans. According to Twitter, Turkey has made 45,800 content removal requests. The country’s requests to withdraw information represent 31% of all requests worldwide.
Pakistan: In April 2021, Pakistan temporarily banned Twitter for four hours, along with other social media platforms in Islamist protests.
The protests, led by right-wing extremists, had been going on in Pakistan for some time after the arrest of the leader of the radical Islamist party, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan. Protesters used social media platforms including Twitter to organize and amplify the protests.
North Korea: The country formally blocked Twitter in 2016, and anyone who attempts to access it without the approval of authorities is subject to penalties under North Korean law. However, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is active on Twitter and uses the microblogging platform for promotional purposes. While it is difficult to access the Internet in North Korea, some do so through Kwangmyong’s restricted intranet.
France: Twitter found itself in trouble with the French government in January 2013, after the publication of anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist messages by anonymous users, using the hashtags SiMonFilsEstGay (If my son was gay), #SiMaFilleRameneUnNoir (If my daughter brings back a black man at home), #IJaisNazi (If I were a Nazi), etc.
Lawsuits were filed by the French advocacy group, the Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), and a judge ordered Twitter to release personally identifiable information about the user who wrote the post. Twitter agreed to remove the offensive posts, but said user details would not be released.
Uganda: In January 2021, Uganda banned Twitter, along with other social media platforms, ahead of its presidential elections. Only Ugandans who could bypass the ban using VPNs could access Twitter.
The election campaign was marred by the brutal crackdown on opposition parties by President Yoweri Museveni. The president, in power since 1986, has faced challenges from opposition parties, including singer and opposition MP Bobi Wine.
United States: January 8, 2021, Twitter permanently suspended the account of former US President Donald Trump, a few days before his resignation. This followed the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6 by Trump supporters. Twitter ruled that Trump’s tweets violated his policy of glorifying violence.
UK: Following the 2011 British riots which saw thousands loot towns and villages across the UK, then Prime Minister David Cameroon threatened to shut down Twitter and other social media networks . However, he did not follow up on the threat. The riots were to protest the death of Mark Duggan, a Briton shot dead by police in north London.
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