Microblogging site Twitter has deleted 52 tweets that were flagged by the Centre for criticizing its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centre, however, has clarified that the tweets were flagged and deleted not because they were critical, but because they spread ‘fake news’.
The tweets reportedly were posted by Congress’ Lok Sabha MP Revanth Reddy, Bengal minister Moloy Ghatak, actor Vineet Kumar Singh and filmmakers Vinod Kapri and Avinash Das.
According to NDTV, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed deletion of the tweets based on a legal complaint by the Centre. The account holders have been apprised of their action through emails.
“We are tackling COVID-19 misinformation using a combination of product, technology, and human review – these critical efforts will continue to be a priority. In order for content related to COVID-19 to be labelled or removed under this policy, it must. Advance a claim of fact, expressed in definitive terms; Demonstrably false or misleading, based on widely available, authoritative sources; likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm,” the spokesperson said.
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Government sources, however, told NDTV that the tweets were deleted not for criticising it, but for spreading ‘fake news’ by circulating old photos and creating panic among people through ‘misinformation’.
“There are many Twitter handles which have been criticizing the government 24X7, but the government didn’t ask them to be blocked. Only those who have been circulating fake news, old photos etc. and trying to mislead and create panic in the society have been restricted,” the sources were quoted as saying.
The government has come under harsh criticism for its handling of the COVID-19 situation even as states grappling with a spike in cases, are scrambling for medical oxygen and ICU beds to save serious patients.
Even though the Centre has announced the fourth phase of vaccination drive, meant for those above 18 years, it has been criticized for “abdicating” its duty to provide free vaccines to all by making a new vaccine policy that would require states to buy shots – at much higher prices than offered to the Centre – to vaccinate the abovementioned age group.