Anantkumar Hegde Flags Promoted Tweet Asking For Separate Khalistan; Finds His Twitter Handle Blocked
The main issue here is of the promotion of anti-India activities by a company operating in Indian domain with a registered office on Indian soil.
Microblogging site Twitter, which has courted controversy in the past for its political bias, has landed itself in a major scandal this time.
It has been caught promoting anti-India activities on its platform.
The issue was brought to notice when five-time member of parliament and former central minister Anantkumar Hegde took strong objection to a promoted tweet by a Khalistan-supporting handle asking for "Independence of Khalistan".
In a display of further brazenness, after Hegde’s protest, on the pretext of his earlier tweets on the Tablighi Jamaat, the social media platform has blocked Hegde's verified handle itself.
The audacity to block the handle of a heavyweight politician in face of such grave charges is also an issue here, albiet a minor one.
The larger and deeply concerning issue is the promotion of anti-India activities by a company operating in Indian domain with a registered office on Indian soil.
Hegde has complained to the Prime minister, Home Minister and Minister for Electronics and Information Technology seeking appropriate action against the site for threatening Indian security. Accusing the site of provoking people into anti-national activities, Hegde has also raised the important issue of the accountability of such sites in the ambit of Indian taxation laws.
In his letter, Hegde has requested that these companies be made to pay taxes on revenue collected from India and held accountable to law of the land.
It is important to note here that the platform's tweet promotion exercise is not an automated one. The price for promoting a tweet can differ for different tweets. Which means all promotion requests are vetted either manually or through an algorithm.
It is therefore a matter of speculation as to what price Twitter might have put for risking clearcut sedition directed at a country which has a high number of Twitter users.
Indian security analysts have kept pointing to Pakistani funding for Khalistani separatists in Canada. It is also an open secret in the security circles that Pakistani agencies spend massive amounts on propaganda, a good share of which is invested in social media campaigns.
It must also be noted that a previous Twitter handle of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, whose seditious tweet was promoted by Twitter, was suspended over various complaints.
Last year also, Twitter had dodged summons by Anurag Thakur-led Parliamentary Committee on Information and Technology over concerns of its political bias and accusations of muzzling of conservative voices.
Instead of an appearance by senior officials with real decision-making powers, the company had sent its junior India officials having no power to make enforcement decisions.
This time the matter is even more serious and it is hoped that the Government will take serious cognizance of it.
Speaking to Swarajya, Hegde raised his concern about Twitter's targeting of nationalist voices and free pass to anti-social and anti-India voices.
He demanded Twitter allow full transparency on its algorithms pertaining to trends and speech prohibition.
Citing the Prime Minister's exhortation to create indigenous social media platforms, Hegde also stressed on the need of data sovereignty to fight digital imperialism.
On the question of deleting his tweet to get the suspension revoked, he replied in a firm negative.
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