India threatened to shut down Twitter if it didn’t comply with requests to censor accounts that were critical of how the government handled farmer demonstrations, former Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, said.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in response called the charge as an “outright lie.”
Dorsey, who left his position as CEO of Twitter in 2021, claimed on Monday that India also threatened the firm with staff raids if it did not remove certain postings at the government’s request.
“It manifested in ways such as: ‘We will shut down Twitter in India’, which is a very large market for us; ‘We will raid the homes of your employees’, which they did; And this is India, a democratic country,” Dorsey said in an interview with the YouTube news programme Breaking Points.
In response, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the deputy minister for information technology and a high-ranking member of Modi’s administration, attacked Dorsey and labeled his claims an “outright lie.”
No one was imprisoned, and Twitter was not shut down. In a post on Twitter, he claimed that Dorsey’s administration had trouble acknowledging the supremacy of Indian law.
Dorsey’s remarks once more brought attention to the challenges that international technology behemoths functioning under Modi’s government are facing. His government has frequently criticised Google, Facebook, and Twitter for failing to take action against phony or “anti-India” content on their platforms or for breaking the law.
Governments in Nigeria and Turkey had at various periods throughout the years imposed restrictions on the platform in their countries, and Dorsey also acknowledged similar pressure from those governments.
Modi’s government requested an “emergency blocking” of the “provocative” Twitter hashtag “#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide” and other accounts during the public fight with Twitter in 2021. One of the main problems the Modi administration faced at the time was the protests by farmer groups over new agricultural legislation. Later, the government acceded to the demands of the farmers.
India’s score in the World Press Freedom Index has dropped from 140th in 2014 when Modi assumed office to 161st this year, its lowest position ever.