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Twitter blinks, restores Kashmiri journalist Aarti Tikoo’s account after locking her for raising alarm over death threats to her brother

Twitter told Delhi High Court that it has written to Aarti Tikoo's lawyer Mukesh Sharma informing that her account has been restored

A week after Journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh dragged Twitter to the Delhi High Court for blocking her account, the social media giant has written to Tikoo’s lawyer Mukesh Sharma informing that her account has been restored. Twitter has also asked The New Indian co-founder to withdraw the petition or request the High Court to close it. According to Twitter, the case has become infructuous after they restored the account. The Twitter account of Aarti Tikoo Singh was blocked after she had tweeted about threats her brother was receiving from Islamists.

In December last year, Tikoo had posted a Twitter space video in which her brother Sahil Tikoo had participated and was referred to as an ‘Indian Agent’ among other accusations levelled against him. “My brother who lives in Srinagar, being openly threatened by jihadi terrorists sitting in Kashmir-India & their handlers in Pakistan, UK & US. Is anyone watching? Are we sitting ducks waiting to be shot dead by Islamists or will you crack down on them?”, she had tweeted.

Following this, Twitter had locked the journalist’s account, issuing her a notice that she could unlock her account only if she deleted the tweet about her brother getting threats. Twitter, for some odd reason, decided that the tweet raising alarm over her brother getting threats violated their community standards.

In the notice, Twitter had said, “You may not promote violence against, threaten or harass other people on the basis of race, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or serious disease”.

On January 6, Tikoo had dragged Twitter to the Delhi High Court saying that her rights under the constitution were violated and Twitter was siding with Islamist terrorists by locking her account. The plea filed through advocate Mukesh Sharma stated that the manner in which her brother was targeted by some participants was reminiscent of January 1990. However, she was shocked to see that Twitter served her a notice for this Tweet saying it went against their Rules on Hateful Conduct, the petition said.

The petition also added that Twitter’s action had violated her rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, and demanded that the decision of the social media company be quashed. The Delhi High Court in response had issued a notice on January 11 to Twitter and the government challenging the social media giant’s decision to lock her account. Justice Rekha Palli had also requested a response from the Centre and Twitter Inc., while also providing three weeks to file a counter-affidavit in the issue.

Twitter is known for its extreme left-wing bias, which blocks and suspends right-wing voices even at smallest matters, but refuses to take action against leftists and Islamists users. But the example of Aarti Tkoo shows that if someone stands by their ground and takes legal action against the company instead of complying with its demands, the company may be forced to reverse its anti-right wing actions.

In 2020, Twitter had locked the account of scientist and columnist Dr Anand Ranganathan on the platform for posting a Quranic verse. In his tweet, Dr Anand Ranganathan had quoted a verse from Quran which stated that those who abuse Allah and His Messenger (Prophet), Allah has cursed them in this world and the hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment. The verse is mentioned in Quran, but despite that Twitter had blocked his account saying it is against the rules of the platform and is ‘hateful conduct’. However, later Twitter restored his account and had tendered an apology to Dr Anand Ranganathan.

In this regard, it can be added that OpIndia was once forced to delete an editorial cartoon last year after the company locked the account. While OpIndia had appealed the decision, a decision was taken to delete the cartoon to get the account restored. In hindsight, it can be said that OpIndia also could have gone to court, and perhaps Twitter would have blinked then also if it was done. But it would have taken time, and OpIndia couldn’t have afforded to keep it’s Twitter handle idle for months while the matter is heard by a court. By deleting cartoon also the portal suffered a loss, because it resulted in the loss of followers as the Twitter algorithm put OpIndia as one of the handles that broke its rules.

It is interesting to note that while Twitter blinked in the case of Aarti Tikoo, the company had taken a different stand in the case of Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde. Twitter had permanently suspended his Twitter account, and when he had approached the Delhi High Court, the court had advised him to live without Twitter. The company had said that it can suspend the account of any individual user found in breach of their service agreement and that it has a “contractual obligation” to do so. The micro-blogging platform further stated that it is not in any way obliged to further the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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