India censors social media posts as internet freedom continues to decline

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India directed Twitter to locally censor accounts and dozens of posts, including some referencing a report that mentioned the country’s declining internet freedoms, the social media platform confirmed to AFP Tuesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has been accused of stifling criticism, with rights groups sounding the alarm over growing curbs on freedom of speech in the world’s largest democracy.

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Last year the government ordered Twitter to take down tweets by the US think-tank Freedom House that had discussed the detention of Indian citizens for questioning government policy on social media, and the use of internet shutdowns to stifle dissent.

The tweets were no longer available in India as of this week, along with several accounts representing Pakistan’s government that had been flagged by India.

Twitter said in a statement to AFP that the removals were “limited to the specific jurisdiction/country where the content is determined to be illegal.”

Pakistan’s foreign office tweeted on Monday night that India’s actions were “extremely alarming” and contrary to democratic norms protecting freedom of expression.

India’s government has repeatedly asked Twitter to withhold accounts and posts in recent years.

Last year it asked the platform to block accounts that had commented in support of anti-government protesters.

Police also investigated more than 100 social media account owners who had tweeted about mob attacks on Muslims in India’s northeast last October, including prominent Indian journalists and a US-based law professor.

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