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Elon Musk Under Fire Over Twitter Indian Censorship Compliance

Elon Musk is being accused of complicity with state censorship after Twitter appeared to side with India’s government in a free speech fight over a documentary criticising Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


The documentary, which was aired by the BBC, torchlights accusations that Modi allowed religious-based violence against Muslims.


In response, Modi’s government ordered social media platforms, including Twitter, to censor posts about the documentary, calling them “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage.” Twitter appears to have complied with this order by blocking certain tweets from being seen within India.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the subject of the critical BBC documentary. Image Source: BusinessToday.


This move is in direct contrast with Musk free speech absolutist claim. He acknowledged the subject in a tweet on Wednesday, saying it was the first time he was hearing about the issue. He then went on to say that it was impossible for him to fix every aspect of Twitter while still running Tesla and SpaceX, among other things. However, his brief answer has been met with criticism because he once touted himself as Twitter’s complaint hotline operator back in November 2022.


Others have shown fear that Musk might be willing to do the bidding of others like Chinese leader Xi Jinping when the time comes.


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It is common for tech companies to block content locally in response to an order from a court or other authority. In a transparency report from before Musk bought Twitter, the company said it received 47,572 local demands to remove content during the second half of 2021, with 97% of them coming from five countries: Japan, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, and India. Within India, Twitter said it complied 5.6% of the time.


However, this same thing is what Elon Musk and his team of independent journalists have been trying to uncover with the Twitter Files saga.


Elon Musk Has Inherited Twitter's India Problem
Twitter bird in Indian jail. Image Source: Time.


India also ordered YouTube to remove the documentary for its platform and the Google-owned entity has removed some copies of the documentary . However, YouTube claimed that it was acting in response to a copyright-related demand.  The BBC revealed it had requested the removal of clips from websites and platforms that it infringed on its copyright.


The Internet Archive also removed copies of the documentary, showing a notice that items may have been taken down for various reasons.


It appears that Twitter has not really changed much when it comes to state censorship.


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Onwuasoanya Obinna

A reader of books and stringer of words. Passionate about Science and Tech. When not writing or reading he is surfing the web and Tweeting.