Twitter is in trouble in India as the country moves towards laws making social media platforms legally responsible for user-generated content.
In February of 2021, India released a strict new rule to apply to any social media company available in the country. The rule would require the company to have three roles staffed physically in India: A “compliance officer” to ensure the social media’s content is following local laws, a “grievance officer” to address local complaints about the platform, and a “contact person” to serve as a 24/7 go-between for Indian law enforcement and the company. Social media companies had three months to comply, which meant they had until May.
According to a court filing on July 5, 2021, Twitter is in trouble, and has not yet complied with any of the three roles. Of the three, only a grievance officer has materialized, and that position is located in California, which is against the new rules.
The filing calls for Twitter to lose its protection from liability over this non-compliance, and was filed by the Indian government. India’s IT minister has called the company’s choices a “path of deliberate defiance.” Twitter calls the IT rules a “potential threat to freedom of speech” in India.
In February, Twitter clashed with the Indian government when the tech ministry ordered that the platform censor accounts during mass protests. Twitter removed posts calling for violence, but refused to take any action against the accounts of journalists, activists, or politicians.
In May, Indian police raided Twitter’s offices in New Delhi after Twitter put a “manipulated media” tag on a tweet from a spokesperson from Modi’s ruling party. The tweet featured a doctored image meant to slur Modi’s opposition. Twitter called the police visit “intimidation tactics,” and has said they are concerned about the safety of any future employees placed in India. The Indian police claim they only wanted Twitter to aid their investigation into the source of the image.
Photo by Sergei Elagin / Shutterstock.com