Twitter India on Monday restored many of the accounts it had earlier withheld on the platform in response to a legal request from Indian authorities related to the ongoing farmer agitation.
The accounts, it is learnt, were taken down after a request to take them down under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
Twitter temporarily withheld some accounts in India under its Country Withheld Content policy in response to a valid legal request from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
A legal request was sent by MeitY for the withholding of accounts on Saturday, after the hashtag “promoting genocide” began trending.
A Twitter trend, “ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide” was said to be the cause of the blocking of the accounts. Essentially, any account tweeting or retweeting this hashtag was blocked.
A government official said the provocation of genocide was unacceptable in any country and hence the request to block accounts tweeting the hashtag.
“Many countries have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content. In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.
In further meetings with the officials, Twitter said accounts and tweets in question constitute free speech and were newsworthy, hence they were unwithheld.
The statement further added that when Twitter receives requests to withhold content, it notifies the affected account holders, unless prohibited from doing so, such as if it receives a court order under seal.
The Twitter account of Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar was also blocked around evening after he quote tweeted a tweet demanding action against the said hashtag. The accounts taken down included those of The Caravan, actor Sushant Singh, farmer organisation Kisan Ekta Morcha.
An “account withheld” message was shown to anyone trying to access these accounts, which Twitter said were “withheld in India in response to a legal demand”.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at the borders of Delhi against recent farm laws, demanding a complete repeal.