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    Twitter starts blocking handles censured by govt

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    Facing the possible arrest of its top executives and a financial penalty, Twitter finally started blocking accounts flagged by the government for “carrying inflammatory and divisive comments”.

    Top sources told that the American micro-blogging giant, which has been under pressure over the past few days over comments made by users using the hashtag #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide, has assured the government that it is looking into its concerns, and taking stock of the content on the handles mentioned in the notice sent by the IT Ministry under Section 69A of the IT Act.

    Sources said that of the 257 handles that had originally tweeted with the hashtag, 126 have been deactivated. Just a few days ago, Twitter had blocked them, before activating them almost immediately citing “free speech” and because it found the content “newsworthy”. It has now blocked many of them again.

    Similarly, of the 1,178 handles that the government suspected to have links with Khalistani and Pakistani elements to spread misinformation and provocative content, 583 have been deactivated. A spokesperson for Twitter in India refused to respond to a detailed questionnaire.

    Twitter has been in the eye of a storm following some of the tweets, especially those that are viewed as controversial. After American pop star Rihanna , who has a mammoth 101.6 million followers on the platform and teen activist Greta Thunberg expressed solidarity with the farmers agitation, the online chatter around the issue grew in leaps and bounds, prompting the government to raise concerns.

    The IT ministry, headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad, told Twitter that it was obliged to comply with its instructions as they were being given keeping public order in mind and in order to defuse tensions and hatred.

    Twitter was told that if it did not comply with the demands of the government, then action would be taken against the company under Section 69A [3] of the IT Act, which talks about a jail term of up to seven years for senior company officials, and a financial penalty.

    Twitter, which has its own content-moderation policy before taking down any account, for now has decided to block the handles that were sought to be censured by the government. However, a full compliance is yet to be reached.

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