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Twitter says concerned about India staff safety after Delhi police visit to office

Published: Updated:

Twitter Inc said on Thursday it was worried about the safety of its staff in India, days after police visited its office as part of a probe related to the social media firm’s tagging of some ruling party posts as manipulated.

Indian police on Monday visited a Twitter office to serve a notice to the micro-blogging firm’s country head for a probe into its tagging of a tweet by a ruling party spokesman as “manipulated media.”

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Without directly referring to the Delhi police action, Twitter said: “We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service.”

Leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party recently shared portions of a document on Twitter they said was created by the main opposition Congress party and highlighted government failures in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress complained to Twitter saying the document was fake, after which Twitter marked some of the posts as “manipulated media.”

Delhi Police declined to comment.

Twitter has been battling with the Indian government since February after the technology ministry asked it to block content alleging Modi’s administration was trying to silence criticism related to farmer protests in the country.

Following that showdown, India announced new IT rules that aim to make social media firms more accountable to legal requests for swift removal of posts.

On Thursday, Twitter urged the technology ministry to give it three more months to comply with the new content regulation rules, which include the appointment of an Indian grievance officer to deal with complaints.

Twitter said it was very concerned the rules made the compliance officer criminally liable for content on the platform, adding the move represented a dangerous overreach.

India’s technology ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The new IT rules have spurred legal battles, including a lawsuit filed by Facebook-owned WhatsApp this week which calls out India’s government for exceeding its legal powers by enacting rules that will force the messaging app to break end-to-end message encryption.

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