Co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News Mohammed Zubair received a notice from Twitter on June 10, informing him that the microblogging platform has received a request from Indian law enforcement claiming that one of his tweets violated Indian laws. While Twitter has not yet taken any action on the tweet in question, sharing a screenshot of the notice, Zubair said that his Twitter reach has been restricted after several similar notices. Zubair shared that he had received at least 11 such notices from Twitter Legal since April 2020, and several of them were similarly based on requests from Indian law enforcement.
In the tweet which was flagged in the latest notice, which Zubair posted on March 10, 2021, he pointed out that a doctored video was being shared ahead of the Assam Assembly elections to falsely claim that AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) chief, Badruddin Ajmal, had made inflammatory comments about establishing an Islamic state. The video had been shared by various news outlets, journalists, BJP and RSS members, and other right-wing supporters. In his tweet, Zubair shared evidence to point that the viral video had been clipped from a longer video where Badruddin Ajmal had said nothing of the sort.
Zubair told Newslaundry that while most of the emails he has received from Twitter since last year were about specific tweets, he had received one email in April 2020 which was similar to the one cartoonist Manjul recently received. Manjul had shared the notice he had received from Twitter which said that the Indian government found his handle itself to be in violation of Indian laws. Manjul had challenged the notice from Twitter and wrote, “Fortunately, the Modi government did not say that Twitter should shut down the handle; that this cartoonist is unrighteous, an atheist; that he does not see Modi as god.” Manjul had been making cartoons depicting the inadequacies of the government in handling the disastrous second wave of COVID-19.
According to a source-based report in The Wire, on June 8, four days after Manjul received the notice, he was suspended from Network 18 with “immediate effect”. Soon after receiving the notice, Manjul had told Newslaundry that he was concerned that it could affect his livelihood, as he may lose clients who might be afraid to associate with him. He said the email was “purely intimidation.”
Wow! How is this Fact check video violating law of India? @TwitterIndia @TwitterSupport @rsprasad— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) June 11, 2021
Is Indian Govt allergic to Facts?
Twitter might not have taken any action against my tweet. But they have restricted my twitter reach after multiple such notices. pic.twitter.com/C1jiElla71
Indian Police is sending requests to Twitter to take down content posted by likes of @MANJULtoons, @zoo_bear claiming that it violates Indian law. We don't know which police department is sending these requests, nor do we know what law their tweets violate - no transparency. 1/n— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) June 11, 2021