Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday questioned Twitter’s neutrality while calling it ‘a biased platform’ which ‘listens to what the government says’. He accused the company of interfering with the country’s political process, attacking its democratic structure, and wondered whether the people were going to allow companies to define their politics ‘beholden to the government’. He reiterated India’s democracy is under attack and they are not allowed to speak in Parliament. “…the media are being controlled,” he said in a 1:34 minute video posted on YouTube.
Rahul Gandhi said Twitter was ‘a ray of light’ as it provided space for putting out their opinions. ‘But it is obvious now that is not the case. Twitter is not a neutral platform.’
The criticism came a day after Twitter temporarily locked nearly 5,000 accounts, including those of several senior leaders of the party and its official handle after they shared a photograph of Gandhi’s meeting a minor rape victim’s family in Delhi. Gandhi’s account was locked on Saturday for the same reason.
Rahul Gandhi said the locking of his account was not an attack on him but on his 20 million followers.
In response to Congress’s criticism, a Twitter spokesperson on Thursday maintained they enforce rules “judiciously and impartially” for everyone. “We have taken proactive action on several hundred Tweets that posted an image that violated our Rules and may continue to do so in line with our range of enforcement options.”
Congress and Twitter have been at loggerheads since the company locked Gandhi’s account.
BJP spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal rejected the suggestion that Twitter is acting under government pressure. Twitter even suspended former information technology minister (Ravi Shankar Prasad)’s handle (over alleged copyright infringement in June) too. When the government was trying to fix the accountability of the social media giant and regulate it, Congress opposed the action. For anything and everything, they blame the Modi government.” Agarwal asked Congress to support the government’s efforts to regulate tech companies and to hold them accountable.
The social media firm and the government earlier faced off over the new social media and intermediary guidelines when Twitter raised concerns about the safety of its employees in India and flagged police intimidation.
There have also been several run-ins between the firm and the government over orders to block access to content and the marking of posts by BJP leaders as manipulated media.