Twitter on Thursday responded to criticism of its recent decisions to suspend certain Indian accounts, claiming it had been impartial in enforcing its rules and was committed to transparency. The social media platform said it enforces its one set of rules “judiciously and impartially for all individuals – regardless of their belief or background”.
“There has been a lot of discussion this week about Twitter’s perceived bias in India,” the social media company said in a series of tweets. “To be clear, whether it’s the development of policies, product features, or enforcement of our Rules, we are impartial and do not take action based upon any ideology or political viewpoint.”
Twitter said its commitment to inclusion and diversity was fundamental to “who we are and crucial to the effectiveness of our service”. “Voices from across the spectrum can be seen and heard on Twitter and we are committed to the principles of openness, transparency, and impartiality,” it added.
“Every Tweet and every account that is brought to our attention is reviewed on its own merit,” Twitter said. “We have a specialised, global team that enforces Twitter’s Rules. In our trainings we extensively cover topics such as religion and caste to provide them with necessary local context they need to evaluate content.”
The platform said that it does not allow media depicting hateful imagery in live videos, account bios, profiles or header images.
Commenting on the criticism of its process of assigning blue “verified” badges to accounts of public figures, Twitter said the programme was closed at present as it was reviewing it. However, the company added that it does verify public figures on a “limited case-by-case basis”.
Over the last week, activists have pointed to cases of arbitrary suspensions of accounts, accusing Twitter of having a caste and communal bias. An online protest kicked off on Friday after restrictions were placed on the Twitter account of Dilip Mandal, an adjunct professor at the Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication and consulting editor with The Print news website.
Users tweeted their objection, using the hashtag #restoredilipmandal, which blew up into hashtags like #CasteistTwitter, #JaiBhimTwitter (Jai Bhim, a a popular Dalit slogan, is a reference to Bhim Rao Ambedkar) and #BrahmanicalTwitter. Meanwhile, Sanjay Hegde, a prominent Supreme Court lawyer, had his account permanently suspended for tweeting well-known Hindi poem “Hang Him”.
Many Twitter users have accused the platform of ignoring extreme cases of majoritarian hate at times, pointing out how a handle followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi mocked the faith of a two-year-old Christian toddler who died in an accident. Other cases have seen verified Twitter handles calling for ethnic cleansing, and a recent Twitter trend calling for a boycott of Indian Muslims.