New Delhi: Twitter India has restored around 250 handles on its platform which were suspended on the directions of Ministry of Electronics and IT.
The micro-blogging platform on Monday had suspended the accounts citing tweeting of hashtag "ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide".
Twitter said that during the meeting with the officials concerned, the company conveyed that the content is free speech and newsworthy.
"Protecting public conversation and transparency is fundamental to the work we do at Twitter, the content has been unblocked," the company said late on Monday.
ANI reported that the move was on the request of Ministry of Home Affairs and Law enforcement agencies "to prevent any escalation of law and order in view of the ongoing farmer agitations".
Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) directed Twitter to block around 250 Tweets/Twitter accounts which were using 'Modi Planning Farmer Genocide' hashtag & making fake, intimidatory & provocative Tweets on Jan 30: Sources on Twitter Accounts being withheld pic.twitter.com/LIvZjbevRX— ANI (@ANI) February 1, 2021
The withheld accounts included those of political organisations, news portals, NGOs, farmer organisations and activists.
Twitter handles belonging to The Caravan Magazine, CPIM leader and former MP Mohammed Salim, actor Sushant Singh, AAP MLA Jarnail Singh, the party's National Executive Member Preeti Sharma Menon, farmer organisation Kisan Ekta Morcha and CPI(M) Puducherry were among those which were suspended and later restored.
The accounts were showing a message that "account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand" after the suspension.
The suspension drew flak from netizens and demands to restore all the Twitter accounts were loud and widely shared, with #RestoreAllTwitterAccount. The social media giant's move drew criticism from the political parties too. RJD leader Thejashwi Yadav tweeted:
Withholding @Twitter accounts of social activists, journalists and prominent citizens supporting #FarmersProstests by @TwitterIndia is totally uncalled for! It is tantamount to colluding with a authoritarian govt to subvert democracy and thwart people's movement. @jack— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) February 1, 2021
"Is this tweet visible to Indian accounts?" tweeted Kisan Ekta Morcha, to understand if the account was unblocked.
The IT ministry and law enforcement agencies had last week ordered Twitter to block these tweets and accounts under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
According to Twitter, the company blocked these accounts in the interim in response to a valid legal request from MeitY. A Twitter spokesperson said that 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 authorised entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time," the micro-blogging platform said in a statement.
Transparency is vital to protecting freedom of expression, so we have a notice policy for withheld content. Upon receipt of requests to withhold content, we will promptly notify the affected account holders (unless we are prohibited from doing so e.g. if we receive a court order under seal)," the company informed.
Twitter last week said it suspended more than 300 accounts engaged in spam and platform manipulation as the farmers' tractor rally went violent in the national capital on the 72nd Republic Day.
The Delhi Police had warned that 308 Twitter handles have been generated to create confusion over the tractor rally proposed by protesting farmers on Republic Day.
(with inputs from IANS)