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Explained: Twitter’s action against Congress and its leaders, and what next

The Congress's Twitter account, as well as the handles of several party members, was briefly locked this week. What is behind Twitter's action, and what happens next?

Written by Aashish Aryan , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
August 12, 2021 12:42:38 pm
rahul gandhi, rahul gandhi twitter, rahul gandhi twitter account, rahul gandhi twitter account locked, rahul gandhi twitter news, rahul gandhi twitter account latest news, rahul gandhi news, rahul gandhi latest news, congress rahul gandhiRahul Gandhi's Twitter account was locked days before the party's handle as well as some its leaders also faced similar action. (PTI Photo: S. Irfan, File)

The Congress’s Twitter account was briefly locked on Tuesday, along with the accounts of some of its leaders, including Randeep Surjewala, Ajay Maken, Sushmita Dev and Manickam Tagore.

The action came two days after Rahul Gandhi’s account was temporarily locked as he had shared a tweet with the photograph of the parents of a nine-year-old Dalit girl, who was allegedly raped and killed at a crematorium in southwest Delhi on August 1.

What explains Twitter’s action against Congress and its leaders?

Twitter says the deletion of tweets and locking of accounts are being done in accordance with Indian laws and Twitter’s own policy on enforcement options of laws of the country in which it operates.

Gandhi had, in sharing the photograph which had the faces of the parents of the Dalit girl, violated sections of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Both the laws mandate that the identity of the victim shall not be disclosed.

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The Congress leader’s tweet in question was deleted by the platform after the National Commission for Protection of Child Right issued a notice to the micro-blogging site and asked it to remove it.

Following the deletion of Gandhi’s tweet and his account being locked temporarily, other Congress leaders such as Surjewala and Maken had shared the same photograph, which led to their accounts also being temporarily locked.

What action can Twitter take when it enforces local laws on its platform?

There are a range of options available for Twitter for enforcement of local laws, ranging from labelling it ‘synthetic and manipulated media’, limiting the said tweet’s visibility, asking the account holder to delete the tweet, or hiding it until it is removed.

Twitter’s enforcement action policy states, “If an account’s profile or media content is not compliant with our policies, we may make it temporarily unavailable and require that the violator edit the media or information in their profile to come into compliance. We also explain which policy their profile or media content has violated.”

Twitter also attaches notices to certain tweets and limits their interaction on the platform, such as not allowing replies, retweets and likes on the tweet and the account. Further, such tweets, which are put behind notice, will not be shown in top tweets, safe search, or email and text notifications sent by the platform.

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What happens next to the tweets and accounts of Congress and its leaders?

All the tweets which have been marked by Twitter will either have to be deleted from the party’s official account as well as the leaders’ accounts, or will remain invisible from the platform for that long.

Twitter will also inform these users via e-mail about the nature of the violations done through their accounts, and ask them to delete the tweets or face action as per the policy of the platform.

Repeated violations may lead to permanent suspension.

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