The Centre has directed Twitter to remove around 1,178 accounts, allegedly handled by Pakistani and Khalistani users, for spreading misinformation and provocative posts about the farmers’ protests, NDTV quoted official sources as saying.
The IT ministry reportedly issued the order after receiving an advisory from the Ministry of Home Affairs and security agencies.
Twitter, however, is yet to comply with the order imposed under Section 69A of the IT Act.
“The accounts ordered blocked are of Khalistan sympathisers, or those backed by Pakistan and operating from foreign territories…Many of the accounts are also automated bots that were used for sharing and amplifying misinformation and provocative contents on farmers’ protests,” media reports quoted a ministry source as saying.
The government said these accounts have the potential to “cause threat to public order in view of the ongoing farmers’ protests”.
In a similar step, the Centre on January 31 had urged the microblogging site to block 257 handles for tweeting on the farmers’ protest. The accounts were blocked for a few hours before being restored.
Twitter’s unblocking of the accounts had earned it the wrath of the government, with the IT ministry sending it a detailed notice asking the company to comply with the rules.
The government warned Twitter that official may invite a jail term of up to seven years if it refuses to comply with the order.
“Twitter is an intermediary and they are obliged to obey directions of the government. Refusal to do so will invite penal action,” the IT ministry said in a notice on February 1.
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“Incitement to genocide is not freedom of speech; it is a threat to law and order. Delhi had witnessed violence on Republic Day,” the government said.
The government’s order also comes a few days after Twitter’s global CEO Jack Dorsey liked tweets, supporting the farmers’ protests.