Twitter faces renewed heat in India over inaction against anti-court posts

FILE PHOTO: The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Social media giant Twitter Inc faced censure from Indian legislators for a second time in weeks for failing to take down posts critical of India‘s top court and judges that a parliamentary panel called “obscene”.

The renewed heat from Indian legislators comes a day after an Indian parliamentary panel said Twitter submitted a written apology for geo-tagging a northern Himalayan region as part of China. The company vowed to make corrections by month-end.

Meenakashi Lekhi, the head of the panel and a lawmaker from India‘s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ordered Twitter to explain on Thursday why it had not taken down “obscene” tweets by a stand-up comedian against the country’s top court and its judges.

Twitter declined to comment.

The fresh scrutiny comes at a time when India has taken a tough stance around policing digital content. To tackle “fake news” and disinformation, India has proposed a strict set of rules that would force social media giants to deploy automated tools to check for unlawful content and appoint an officer for “24×7” coordination with law enforcement.

Lekhi’s comments come after comedian Kunal Kamra in a series of tweets this month lampooned India‘s Supreme Court and some of its judges, after they intervened to grant bail to the head of a nationalist TV news channel, accused of abetment in a suicide case.

Among other tweets deriding the judges, Kamra also posted an image of the court painted in saffron – a color associated with Hindu nationalism – with the ruling party’s flag raised over the court.

“Kamra is playing with Indian institutions … degrading our institutions is not acceptable,” Lekhi told Reuters.

Lekhi said Twitter’s explanation that it did not moderate content unless it violated the platform’s policy, was inadequate. Twitter has been given seven days to explain its stand on the matter, she added.

Kamra did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment. He has previously publicly said that he would not retract his tweets or apologize for them.

(Reporting by Nigam Prusty and Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Alasdair Pal and David Evans)



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