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Twitter Now Suing India’s Government Over Its Censorship Demands

Meanwhile, on July 4, new owner-to-be Elon Musk tweets a jab at Twitter’s own censors: the British government “fact checks” Paul Revere
Adobe Stock Censorship peace cage Adobe Stock 22001967

Twitter, never out of the news for long these days, is suing the government of India over censorship issues:

On Tuesday, the U.S. social media platform asked an Indian court to overturn some of the government orders to kill posts, which Delhi had accused of spreading misinformation.

They included posts that backed farmer protests and tweets critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twitter called the crackdown overbroad and arbitrary, with the government demonstrating an “excessive use of powers”.

Rina Chandran, “Twitter battles India for control of social media content” at Thomson Reuters Foundation News (July 6, 2022)

No date is yet set for the hearing. Observers might be surprised by Twitter’s anti-censorship stance here, given the history in the United States. But the stark truth is that many governments and interest groups want more censorship, not less. In India, for example, the Hindu nationalist government demands censorship of tweets by journalists, activists and human rights groups that oppose its policies:

The social media giant has faced legal pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ever since his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2021 passed an information technology law that gives the government more power over internet platforms. The law allows the government to block a wide range of content on defence and security grounds. It also criminalises violations of these orders, which companies must keep confidential.

Pallavi Pundir, “Twitter Is Taking the Indian Government to Court Over ‘Abuse of Power’” at Vice (July 6, 2022)

Twitter is caught in the middle. But now, what if Elon Musk, dedicated to more free speech on Twitter, goes through with buying the firm?

In a video leaked last month to Project Veritas, he told Twitter employees that users should be allowed to tweet “pretty outrageous things,” making his commitment to free speech clear:

Then, on July 4, he posted a “fake news” tweet, allegedly from American Revolution figure Paul Revere, dated in 1775, in which Twitter’s “anti-fake news” system appears to be hard at work:

Making clear that the Twitter censors are in his sights…

As to the deal itself, while it was approved by the Twitter board on June 21, the value of Twitter’s shares has fallen during the Big Tech decline, leaving the value of the firm, hence the price, in ongoing dispute.

Breaking: Twitter has laid off 30% of its recruitment team at the San Francisco head office, citing a need to “refocus” during the current Big Tech downturn. – SF Gate (July 7, 2022)

Possibly heralding changes to come at a Musk-run Twitter (if it happens), journalist Alex Berenson, author of Pandemia, has been reinstated after Twitter, threatened with a lawsuit for banning him, conceded that Berenson did not violate its COVID misinformation policy with this tweet:

In the fallout from the official responses to COVID-19, many people’s experiences would lead them to agree with Berenson on one or all of those points.

The Berenson episode hints at what is at stake: Is Twitter a platform for the public to offer a variety of views and experiences or one dedicated to reinforcing the policies of the establishment? And now, with the India flap, Musk appears headed for direct conflict with one of the world’s largest countries on this very question.

You may also wish to read:

Will Musk’s Twitter bid — win or lose — damage Twitter’s power? Stirring the pot, Musk recently slammed current media’s marked disinterest in who teen sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s prominent clients were … Just airing the “how many bots?” issue could greatly reduce public fear of Twitter’s legendary, career-nuking hatestorms. What if they’re mostly bots?

Denyse O'Leary

Denyse O'Leary is a freelance journalist based in Victoria, Canada. Specializing in faith and science issues, she is co-author, with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul; and with neurosurgeon Michael Egnor of the forthcoming The Human Soul: What Neuroscience Shows Us about the Brain, the Mind, and the Difference Between the Two (Worthy, 2025). She received her degree in honors English language and literature.

Twitter Now Suing India’s Government Over Its Censorship Demands