Have new biases taken over Twitter’s old one’s or the old biases just have new faces, is what a section of the twitterati is thinking as the question raised several more on Twitter itself, as also on the author of the expose
New Delhi: ‘Why ban Donald Trump when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not banned from Twitter?’ This question posed by Bari Weiss, in the fifth edition of Twitter’s self-expose — ‘Twitter Files’ — has landed the microblogging site in a soup.
Have new biases taken over Twitter’s old one’s or the old biases just have new faces, is what a section of the twitterati is thinking as the question raised several more on Twitter itself, as also on the author of the expose.
“In early February 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government threatened to arrest Twitter employees in India, and to incarcerate them for up to seven years after they restored hundreds of accounts that had been critical of him. Twitter did not ban Modi,” Weiss wrote in the 24th tweet of the 30-strong thread of Twitter Files 5.
Weiss’ has a history of anti-India bias
When it comes to India, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between Bari Weiss and Vijaya Gadde.
In a tweet from March 1, 2020, Weiss wrote: “About to go live with the great @MaajidNawaz on @LBC who is currently (and righteously!) tearing apart callers defending Modi’s anti-Muslim policies.”
The LBC stands for Leading Britain’s Conversation, a talk radio platform.
While Twitter fumed over the tweet, sources said the it was unwarranted as was wrong at so many levels.
“This refers to the time when the farmers were protesting against the three farm laws and the government sent a legal request for banning or blocking such handles which intelligence agencies had flagged as belonging to Khalistani and jihadi elements operating from abroad and such as those backed by Pakistan to foment trouble in the country. The government acted well within its legal rights and Twitter is bound to follow the law of the land,” the source said.
Weiss’ claim that there was a threat that Twitter employees would be arrested and incarcerated is patently false.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on January 30 had ordered Twitter to ban around 250 accounts and tweets that were tweeting ‘fake, intimidatory and provocative tweets’ with the fake and false hashtag that PM Modi was planning a ‘genocide’ of farmers in India
This blocking was done at the request of the Ministry of Home Affairs and law enforcement agencies.
However, these accounts were restored.
Thereafter, the government served a notice to Twitter for complying with its order and against the reinstatement of accounts despite the IT Ministry directive and warning about consequences that would befall Twitter in case “of non-compliance of directions issued under section 69A of the (IT) Act”.
In February again the Centre asked Twitter to remove nearly 1,200 accounts related to the farm protests as it suspected that these accounts were linked to Khalistan sympathisers or Pakistan-based elements. Moreover, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had also ‘liked’ some tweets supporting the farmers’ protests, which further, and rightly so, had raised questions over the platform’s neutrality.
BJP’s Suresh Nakhua slammed Weiss’ claims as ‘fake news’.
Kanchan Gupta called out Weiss’ tweet as Western media’s “licence to exaggerate”.
Comparing apples to oranges
Bari Weiss’ claim in her 24th tweet of Twitter Files 5, is based on a February 10, 2021, report in New York Times, titled, “Twitter Blocks Accounts in India as Modi Pressures Social Media”. “The platform’s problems in the country offer a stark example of the difficulty of adhering to its free-speech principles amid government worries over its influence,” read the excerpt of the report.
But, before putting down her sweeping question as to why PM Modi was not deplatformed, Weiss does not back this report up with anything objectionable that PM Modi would have ever tweeted, as in the case of other choice dictators that she chose to cite alongside the Indian prime minister who actually called upon people for open violence.
Weiss makes no mention of India laws, whatsoever, under which, she claims, the Twitter employees were under threat of arrest and incarceration.
To show that Donald Trump was unduly banned and blocked from Twitter, she mentions Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s tweet from 2018 wherein he called Israel a “malignant cancerous tumour” that needed to be “removed and eradicated”. She cited a tweet from October 2020 from former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in which he said it was “a right” for Muslims to “kill millions of French people.”
“In October 2021, Twitter allowed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to call on citizens to take up arms against the Tigray region. Twitter allowed the tweet to remain up, and did not ban the prime minister,” Weiss said in the 23rd tweet.
“Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Nigeria, incited violence against pro-Biafra groups. ‘Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war,’ he wrote, ‘will treat them in the language they understand’,” Weiss tweeted in the 22nd in the thread.
But, when it came to citing PM Modi, she just put up a screenshot of the NYT article referred to above, with nothing to show from the Indian prime minister’s Twitter account.
Perhaps, Shashi Shekhar Vempati, former CEO of Prasar Bharati, put Weiss’ rant in the right perspective: “Those accounts were inciting violence with false claims of a “genocide of farmers”. Don’t distort facts in your eagerness to build a template for your domestic battle,” Vempati Tweeted.
This article originally appeared on https://www.firstpost.com/ and was reproduced here with permission