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Twitter helps India block account of singer JazzyB, three others

Published: Updated:

Twitter Inc. has blocked access to four accounts in India, including popular Punjabi singer JazzyB, following requests by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

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India’s government on June 6 requested restrictions on the accounts under the country’s controversial information technology laws, according to information disclosed by Twitter to Lumen, a Harvard University project that compiles such data. The four Twitter users -- whose accounts and tweets remain accessible outside the country -- had voiced support for Indian farmers staging protests on New Delhi’s borders for over six months.

Social media giants Twitter and Facebook Inc. are engaged in a worsening conflict with Modi’s administration. Tensions escalated last month when police officers visited Twitter’s New Delhi premises to deliver a notice about posts by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, a move labeled “intimidation tactics by the American company. A federal minister then said the company was trying to “dictate terms to the world’s largest democracy and “defame India.

The south Asian nation sends the second-highest volume of Twitter block requests, comprising a fourth of all global accounts specified, according to the company’s transparency report published earlier this year. The US ranks first.

India recently introduced new rules that can force social media and messaging platforms to break their encryption to identify the originator of a message. WhatsApp has challenged the rules in court, arguing that they muzzle free speech and violate privacy. The government maintains that the new norms will help fight fake news and hate speech.

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