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Twitter suspends 500 accounts ‘to curb spread of misinformation on farmer protests’

NEW DELHI: In order to prevent the spread of misinformation and inflammatory content around farmers’ protests, Twitter on Wednesday suspended over 500 accounts and blocked access to several others within the country following an order issued by the Indian government.

Accounts “news media entities, journalists, activists and politicians” has not been blocked as doing so “would violate their fundamental right to free expression” guaranteed under the law of the country, Twitter said in a statement.

The development comes in the background of the government ordering Twitter to take down 1,178 accounts with links to supporters of Pakistan and Khalistan that reportedly spread “misinformation and inflammatory” content linked to farmers’ protests, on February 4.

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Last month, the government sought to block 257 tweets and handles related to the agitation of farmers over the latest pro-market agricultural laws. Twitter restored the accounts only hours later.

This led to the government issuing a non-compliance notice and a warning of strict penalties and possible terms of imprisonment.

Twitter said, “The values that underpin the Open Internet and free expression are increasingly under threat around the world… Twitter exists to empower voices to be heard, and we continue to make improvements to our service so that everyone – no matter their views or perspective – feels safe participating in the public conversation.”

Following the reports of violence in New Delhi in recent weeks, it wanted to share a granular update on the proactive efforts it took to enforce its rules, it added.

Earlier in January, Twitter said that its global team took action “judiciously and impartially” on Tweets, content, Trends, and accounts that were in violation of its rules and took action on “hundreds of accounts” that violated its rules on “inciting violence, abuse, wishes of harm, and threats that could trigger the risk of offline harm”.

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