Jack Dorsey's 'shut down Twitter' threat claim churns political pot

Dorsey claimed that the Indian government had put pressure on Twitter to restrict posts on farmers' protests.
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 13 June 2023, 09:12 IST
Last Updated : 13 June 2023, 09:12 IST
Last Updated : 13 June 2023, 09:12 IST
Last Updated : 13 June 2023, 09:12 IST

Follow Us :


Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's sensational claims that the Modi government threatened to shut the social media platform unless it restricted accounts during 2021 farmers’ protest on Tuesday prompted a war of words between the Opposition and the ruling BJP.

While the government and the BJP rubbished Dorsey's claims as an “outright lie”, the Opposition called it “murder of democracy in the mother of democracy” and alleged that a “coward dictator sitting in Delhi was trying to suppress this news”.

Former Twitter CEO Dorsey in an interview claimed that the Indian government had put pressure on the platform to restrict posts on farmers' protests and that of journalists who were critical of the government.

“India is a country that had many requests around farmers' protests and particular journalists who are critical of the government. It was manifested in ways such as: ‘We will shut Twitter down in India’, which is a very large market for us; ‘we will raid the homes of your employees’, which they did; And this is India, a democratic country,” he said in response to a question about pressure Twitter faced from governments.

As the Opposition latched on to the comments, Minister of State for Information and Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar claimed Twitter under Dorsey “had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law”. BJP ministers and leaders echoed Chandrasekhar and targeted Dorsey.

“No one went to jail nor was Twitter shut down. This is an outright lie by Dorsey. Perhaps an attempt to brush out that very dubious period of Twitter's history,” he said, adding Twitter under Dorsey and his team were in continuous violations of Indian law.

“As a matter of fact, they were in non-compliance with the law repeatedly from 2020 to 2022 and it was only June 2022 when they finally complied...It behaved as if the laws of India did not apply to it,” he tweeted.

Attacking the government, Congress tweeted, when farmers were protesting, the "coward dictator sitting in Delhi was trying to suppress this news. Be aware, 733 farmers were martyred in this movement and the dictator was engaged in polishing his image on their dead bodies."

Congress Social Media and Digital Platforms Chairperson Supriya Shrinate said manipulation of social media and mainstream media is ailing Indian democracy. "The mother of democracy is seeing a murder of democracy in broad daylight. People are being coaxed into submission...Why is the Prime Minister scared of a 21-year-old climate activist (Disha Ravi) or singer Rihanaa or teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg?"

Rebutting the government's claim that Dorsey is lying, Shrinate asked what is in there for Dorsey, who has quit Twitter, to lie while there is everything for the government to lie. "There is no other defence from the government that Dorsey is lying. That is on expected lines," she said.

Shiv Sena (UBT) Rajya Sabha leader Priyanka Chaturvedi responded to Chandrasekhar's tweet, saying the law Twitter broke was to “allow hate speech and rabid BJP agenda”.

Trinamool Congress tweeted, "Requests or, in this case, veiled threats!...Idi Amin once said - 'There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech'. PM Modi made it one of his guiding principles."

Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, who was in the leadership of farmers' protests, said they had information that the kind of reach on Facebook and Twitter that was expected on farmers' protest, was not coming.

"They used to try to stop it at their level. The Head (Dorsey) has said this clearly now. But such companies don't come under anyone's pressure. The Government of India must have made such attempts...What he said is correct," he said.

NCP said that the remarks of Dorsey have raised many questions about the role of the Union government. The entire country has seen the role of the Union government to crush farmers' protest, the party said, adding it was dangerous if the central government wanted to take away the freedom of expression of journalists and opponents who supported the movement ‍and bring its truth to the people.

Published 13 June 2023, 07:46 IST

Deccan Herald is on WhatsApp Channels | Join now for Breaking News & Editor's Picks

Follow us on :

Follow Us