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Twitter blocks over 500 accounts after Indian government warning

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The social-media giant Twitter said on Wednesday it has taken action on more than 500 accounts and reduced visibility of some hashtags in India to comply with orders from the rightwing Indian government of Narendra Modi after it threatened legal action against executives with Tweeter in India.

Twitter blocked the handles last week at the government's request but then reversed its decision. After conducting an investigation, the company said the accounts should be allowed.

The Indian government threatened legal action, which could have resulted in a fine or imprisonment for Twitter executives in charge of implementing government directives.

On Wednesday, Twitter said it would block most of the accounts again. It said on its blog that the handles would be blocked only within India and wouldn't include the accounts of journalists, media entities, activists and politicians. "To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law," the blog post said.

Millions of farmers have been protesting New Delhi's new laws for 76 days. Twitter, which reaches more than 75 million users through its apps in India, has emerged as the single-most important online forum for people seeking to voice their opinion on this subject.

Singer Rihanna, who has more followers on Twitter than any Indian actor or politician, recently tweeted a CNN news story about the protests and asked: "why aren't we talking about this!?"

Several users had also tweeted using the hashtag #modiplanningfarmersgenocide that were aimed at New Delhi's agriculture reforms.


As the row takes a toll on Twitter, many Indian politicians and users are joining the home-grown Twitter-like social media platform Koo launched last year, according to Reuters.

#kooapp was the top Twitter trend in India on Wednesday with nearly 21,000 posts, followed by #BanTwitter.

Several people on Twitter, including Trade Minister Piyush Goyal, have posted tweets this week saying "I am now on Koo". Goyal, who has 9.6 million Twitter followers, has a pinned tweet asking people to connect with him on Indian platform.

Sambit Patra, a national spokesman for Modi's ruling party, and its head of IT Amit Malviya also joined Koo on Wednesday.

Koo, which has a yellow bird as its logo, said downloads have surged 10-fold in the past two days to over 3 million. "The last 48 hours has seen the largest number of sign-ups," Koo's co-founder Mayank Bidawatka told Reuters.

YouTube Removes 2 Songs on Farmers' Protest

Meanwhile, two Punjabi songs about the farmers' protest have been taken down from the YouTube India website.

A song on the farmers' protest which gave a prominent punch line to the movement - Faslaan de faisley kisaan karuga, or 'All farming decisions will be taken only by the farmers' - is one of the songs that were taken down. The other one is Asi vadangey, or 'We will break you,' by Himmat Sandhu.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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