Indian police target Twitter with a criminal complaint

LONDON (Arabnews): Twitter has been targeted with a criminal complaint by Indian police after a video was shared on the platform of an elderly Muslim man being beaten up.

Police in Uttar Pradesh province in India on Tuesday filed a case accusing Twitter and several other social media platforms of intentionally provoking unrest between members of different communities and religions.

The video posted to Twitter shows an elderly Muslim man being beaten by a group of young men and having his beard cut off. In another video, the victim recounts the incident and says that he was forced to chant a Hindu slogan during the incident.

Three suspects are in custody.

In response, India’s Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is also minister of justice, said that “what happened in UP (Uttar Pradesh) was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news.”

“While Twitter has been over-enthusiastic about its fact-checking mechanism, the failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing and indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation,” he added.

Prasad also published a series of tweets highlighting Twitter’s failure to comply with India’s newly introduced IT laws. 

In response, Twitter said on Tuesday that it is making every effort to comply with the new regulations, including appointing a new interim chief compliance officer in India.

The social media giant is already on shaky ground in India. In recent weeks, tensions have grown between the Indian government and Twitter over new IT rules giving authorities more powers to regulate online content.

Twitter claimed the new IT rules, which came into effect on May 26, were a threat to freedom of expression.

However, the government warned that failure to comply might result in social media platforms losing their status as content intermediaries.

The requirements will make social media companies, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, more accountable to legal requests from the Indian government and police in regards to removing posts and content deemed unlawful by the authorities.