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Question Mark On Status Of Twitter As Intermediary: Govt In Its Letter To Twitter

Toolkit Case ,The Twitter logo
The IT ministry of the central government wrote two letters related to the toolkit case to the social media company Twitter on May 21 and May 25. According to reports, the government cited “percepts of natural justice” and asked the firm to take the ‘manipulated media tag’ out of the tweets done by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders.

Amidst Twitter being banned rumours floating in the country, the two letters are reportedly significant milestones in the relationship between the social media firm and the Indian government. Though, Twitter has failed to comply with the latest guidelines set by the IT intermediaries on May 25.

Pronab Mohanty, who heads an inter-ministerial committee said in his letter addressed to Twitter on May 21, “It’s baffling that at this critical juncture, Twitter has chosen unilaterally to go ahead and designate certain tweets as ‘Manipulated’.” He further added, “This dilutes the credibility of Twitter as a neutral and unbiased platform facilitating the exchange of views by an investigation by the law enforcement agency, also puts a question mark on the status of Twitter as an Intermediary.”

According to reports, on May 18, Twitter tagged several senior BJP members as ‘manipulated media’. This list included BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and Priti Gandhi. Mohanty further wrote, “In this light, such unilateral designation of the ‘toolkit’ as manipulated seeks to influence and overreach the fair investigation process, which is totally unwarranted.”

Twitter responded to this letter on May 22 and said that they did not intend to impact any inquiry that an Indian governmental entity or a law enforcement agency might be conducting in connection with those Tweets while tagging the tweets.

To this reply, the government wrote a letter dated May 25 and said “views of Twitter will likely percolate into the fabric of the ongoing investigation and impact its outcome in a manner that will put its impartiality and objectivity in question.”

Twitter asserted that they strictly follow the policies that are listed on their website when it comes to tagging any media as manipulated or fabricated.