The microblogging platform Twitter has “retained” the accounts of Punjabi singer Jazzy B, hip-hop artist L-Fresh the Lion and two others in response to a legal demand in India, even as she draws attention to the delay in following with the new IT rules in the countryside.
According to information from the Lumen database, Twitter received on June 6 a legal request from the Indian government to operate four accounts, including that of Jazzy B.
Requests received by Twitter for content retention are posted to the Lumen Database – an independent research project studying cease and desist letters relating to online content.
Users verifying Jazzy B’s account see a message stating that “the account has been withheld in India in response to a legal request.”
When contacted, a Twitter spokesperson said that when he receives a valid legal request, he reviews it in accordance with both Twitter rules and local law.
The spokesperson noted that in any case, he directly informs the account holder so that he is informed that the company has received a legal order relating to the account.
Reports suggest that Jazzy B frequently tweeted in support of the farmers’ protests.
Earlier this year, more than 500 accounts were suspended and access to hundreds more in India blocked after the government ordered the microblogging platform to restrict the spread of disinformation and related inflammatory content to farmers’ demonstrations.
Over the past few months, Twitter has been embroiled in a number of issues. Twitter had drawn heed after tagging several tweets directing BJP leaders to an alleged opposition strategy document to target the government on COVID as containing “manipulated media,” triggering a harsh rebuke from the government.
The row over Twitter’s handling of certain posts had recently turned into an all-out war of words between the Center and the social media platform.
The government sent a notice to Twitter last week giving it one last chance to follow “immediately” with the new IT rules and warned that failure to meet the standards would result in the loss of the disclaimer platform under the Data Protection Act.
Twitter has around 1.75 crore of users in India, according to data recently cited by the government.
New IT rules for social media companies that went into effect last month require big platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to undertake more due diligence and make those digital platforms more accountable for the content they host.
The rules also require that major social media intermediaries – providing mostly messaging-type services – can identify the “first sender” of information that erodes India’s sovereignty, state security, or public order.
The new IT rules require important social media intermediaries – those with other 50 lakh users – to appoint a grievance manager, a nodal manager and a compliance manager. These personnel must reside in India.
Under the new rules, social media companies will be required to withdraw flagged content within 36 hours and remove content flagged for nudity, pornography, etc. within 24 hours.
The Center said the new rules are designed to stop abuse and misuse of platforms and provide users with a solid forum for resolving grievances.
Failure to follow with the rules would cause these platforms to lose their status as an intermediary, which gives them immunity from liability with regard to the third-party data they host. In other words, they could be subject to criminal prosecution if there are accusations.