Asian Insider

Twitter and Indian government in showdown over farmers' protests

Social media giant defies govt orders; faces tricky balance of free speech and compliance

Farmers inspecting a barricade erected by the police, which blocks a highway in Ghazipur on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, last week. The government fortified Delhi's borders and asked Twitter to block the accounts of key protest leaders as it br
Farmers inspecting a barricade erected by the police, which blocks a highway in Ghazipur on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, last week. The government fortified Delhi's borders and asked Twitter to block the accounts of key protest leaders as it braced itself for another major demonstration by farmers protesting against the country's new agricultural laws.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Twitter and the Indian government are lurching towards a showdown on free speech over the ongoing protests by farmers.

On Jan 31, scores of prominent Indian Twitter accounts were suddenly blocked in the country on the orders of the central government. These included the accounts of news site Caravan, actor Sushant Singh and two accounts linked to the ongoing protests against new farming laws. The account pages merely said that they had "been withheld in India in response to a legal demand".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2021, with the headline 'Twitter and Indian government in showdown over farmers' protests'. Subscribe