AFP / New Delhi
The de facto head of India’s main opposition party has complained to Twitter about “strange” activity on his account, accusing the US giant of being the “unwitting” ally of the government in curbing free speech.
Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party told Twitter’s CEO in a letter that growth in his new Twitter followers “suddenly” stopped last August, falling from a monthly average of hundreds of thousands to nearly zero.
“I have been reliably, albeit discreetly, informed by people at Twitter India that they are under immense pressure by the government to silence my voice,” he said in the letter dated December 27 and shared by the party yesterday.
He said he believed Twitter is part of an “unwitting complicity in curbing free and fair speech” but that the social media firm has an “enormous responsibility to ensure that Twitter does not actively help in the growth of authoritarianism in India”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has long been accused of seeking to suppress dissent, including on social media, in the world’s largest democracy.
It denies such accusations. Twitter said this week that India ranks fourth-highest globally in the number of requests made by the government to remove content, behind Japan, Russia and another European nation.
The site is blocked in China and North Korea.
Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders described social media suspensions during mass farmer protests in India last year as a “shocking case of blatant censorship”.
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