Twitter is facing backlash after it allegedly shadow-banned Kashmir-based Indian Army’s Chinar Corp’s account for unclear reasons. It has been alleged that the shadow-ban was imposed after the account posted details of a rescue operation in Jammu and Kashmir.
While sharing the information about the shadow-ban, a Delhi-based activist group, Kalinga Rights Forum, tweeted, “Filed complaint with @MIB_India [Ministry of Information and Broadcasting], @GoI_MeitY [Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology], @HMOIndia [Home Minister Office] against @TwitterIndia for illegal censorship of Official Twitter handle of @ChinarcorpsIA, a handle of @adgpi [Indian Army].” They have sought strict action against Twitter and its Indian head for violating the Indian constitution.
Filed complaint with @MIB_India @GoI_MeitY @HMOIndia against @TwitterIndia for illegal censorship of OfficialTwitter handle of @ChinarcorpsIA , a handle of @adgpi— Kalinga Rights Forum (@KalingaForum) November 17, 2020
sought stringent action against Twitter India head & twitter company as a whole for violating Indian constitution. pic.twitter.com/Z2SGXCZ6v2
In the following tweets, the group shared series of screenshots of complaints they had filed with different authorities including Major General K Narayanan, JS-ARMY, DMA, Simmi Chaudhry, Economic Advisor, MeitY, P.K Abdul Kareem, Economic Advisor, MIB, Rakesh Mittal, JS MIS, Ministry of Defence, Govt of India and Anuj Sharma, JOINT SECRETARY, JS C& IS.
#UPDATE #Strike1— Kalinga Rights Forum (@KalingaForum) November 17, 2020
Our Complaint is now forwarded to Maj Gen K Narayanan, JS-ARMY, DMA for Stringent Action against @TwitterIndia & its officials for censoring & shadow banning @ChinarcorpsIA, a handle of @adgpi pic.twitter.com/CxNliYkkPf
#Update #Strike3— Kalinga Rights Forum (@KalingaForum) November 17, 2020
Our complaint is now forwarded to P.K Abdul Kareem , Economic Advisor, @MIB_India for Stringent Action against @TwitterIndia & its officials for censoring & shadow banning @ChinarcorpsIA , a handle of @adgpi pic.twitter.com/a2LEL2arlW
#Update #Strike5— Kalinga Rights Forum (@KalingaForum) November 17, 2020
Our complaint is now forwarded to Shri Anuj Sharma , JOINT SECRETARY, JS C& IS , @HMOIndia for stringent action against @TwitterIndia & its officials for censoring & shadow banning @ChinarcorpsIA , a handle of @adgpi pic.twitter.com/iedROiVznu
What is shadow-banning?
Shadow-banning refers to imposing reach limitation on an account by restricting the reach and visibility of the content. The main indication of shadow-banning on any platform is a fall in engagement and, in some cases, non-appearance of the account and tweet in search. Though Twitter generally denies allegations of shadow-banning and in July 2018 blog post, claimed that they do not shadow-ban anyone, incidents of shadow banning by the micro-blogging site keeps appearing.
It is notable that in January 2020, it added a clause in the terms and conditions in gave the company power to “remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service, suspend or terminate users, and reclaim usernames without liability to you [the users].”
Twitter has locked horns with Indian Authorities in the past
On 13th November, Twitter removed Home Minister Amit Shah’s profile photograph citing copyright violation and locks account. After the backlash, a Twitter spokesperson said, “Due to an inadvertent error, we temporarily locked this account under our global copyright policies. This decision was reversed immediately and the account is fully functional”.
On 9th November Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) accused Twitter of “undermining the will of India’s sovereign parliament by depicting the newly-created Leh Union Territory as part of the Jammu and Kashmir region”. Twitter has sought time till month end to sort the issue.
In October, the Indian government sent a notice to Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, on the same issue. Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, India’s Information and Technology (IT), said in his letter that such attempts raise questions about the neutrality and fairness of the social media giant as an intermediary.
Twitter has faced backlash several times for suspending right-wing leaders and voices in India from its platform, while the left-leaning voices often get away with malicious content.