Twitter has blocked the account of Rajya Sabha MP and Samajwadi Party leader Chaudhary Sukhram Singh Yadav, MediaNama reported on Thursday. This is one of the high-profile accounts blocked by the social media platform in India.
Twitter said that the account has been withheld in response to a legal notice for users accessing it in India. However, users outside the country can see the MP’s tweets normally.
It is not clear if Yadav’s account was blocked on the directives of the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, for allegedly spreading misinformation about the farmers’ protest. The social media platform had on Wednesday said that it was blocking “a portion” of accounts that the government had directed it to take down but clarified that it has not taken any action against news media entities, journalists, activists and politicians.
Yadav confirmed to MediaNama that the blocked account was his official page. It did not have a blue tick that verifies a person’s account. “To block the account of a people’s representative – this is one of the worst things to do in a democracy,” he told MediaNama. “If an MP is not given preference, then what can be said of the common man.”
The Rajya Sabha MP said that he would write to the government to protest against the action.
Yadav’s team told MediaNama that they were able to post tweets but not see them. The MP’s account has not received likes, retweets or replies since Wednesday, implying that the account was withheld from the same day.
Twitter was thrust into the centre of a controversy after the government ordered the social media platform to remove more than 1,100 accounts and posts, which the Centre claimed are spreading misinformation about farmer protests against the three new agricultural laws.
The dispute escalated on Wednesday, after Twitter refused to fully comply with the order, saying these these demands of the government were inconsistent with the Indian law. It refused to outright ban the handles, but imposed restrictions on some of them within India.
The government in turn expressed its “deep disappointment” over the manner in which the company had “unwillingly, grudgingly and with great delay” complied with only a part of the government’s orders. It said the social media platform must respect local laws irrespective of Twitter’s own rules and guidelines.
Earlier on Thursday, Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and WhatsApp were welcome to operate in India, but only if they play by the government rules.
Previously, the government had also sent Twitter a notice of non-compliance, threatening its executives with jail terms and fines after the company did not obey another government order to block accounts.
Twitter’s actions have irked the government, with several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders accusing the microblogging website of showing high handedness. Many politicians and users are also joining the home-grown Twitter-like social media platform Koo, in a snub to the company.