New Delhi: Twitter has permanently suspended the popular account “IndiaExplained”, with account holder Rohit Chopra now claiming that the action was prompted by his refusal to take down a controversial tweet on Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Chopra, an associate professor in communications at Santa Clara University in California, told ThePrint that he had put out the tweet on 8 December in the aftermath of the police killing of the Hyderabad rape suspects.
Chopra said that after this tweet, Twitter had initially locked @IndiaExplained, asking him to delete the tweet. “I deleted it only to access the IndiaExplained account to make a statement to my (nearly) 70,000 followers about Twitter’s hypocrisy and double standards,” Chopra said.
After accessing the account, Chopra said he had written a series of tweets calling out Twitter’s double standards in trying to remove his tweet but allowing “Modi supporters, BJP members, and the BJP IT cell people get away with far worse including death threats and rape threats”.
Following this, he claimed, Twitter suspended his personal account @rchops and that of Bunty Bolta, @BuntyBolta, who helps run @IndiaExplained’s podcast.
“Twitter and Twitter India have permanently suspended the IndiaExplained account in response to my refusal to take down a tweet. Oddly, they have also permanently suspended my other Twitter account @rchops that I barely used at all,” Chopra said.
“I am debating pursuing the matter with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation but given the massive investment in time and energy may just let it be,” he added. “They want to erase our presence.”
Twitter, in response to ThePrint’s email asking about the account suspensions of @IndiaExplained and @rchops, said, “We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”
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A Modi critic
Chopra suspects other tweets accusing Twitter of pandering to BJP government may also have triggered the suspension.
A known Modi critic, Chopra has been studying how Hindu Right-wingers use the internet to communicate their agenda since 1998. Then, in 2014, after Modi’s victory, Chopra had started a Twitter account that evolved to become @IndiaExplained to offer satirical takes on Indian politics.
Since the suspension of the accounts, Chopra moved to another account called @ExplainingIndia but its presence is a bare minimum. Chopra has also moved to Mastodon and will be starting an account soon.
“Friends, India Explained has moved to IndiaExplained@mastodon.social Would be grateful for a shoutout. We will keep a barebones presence on Twitter here,” posted @ExplainingIndia Saturday.
This is not the first time that Twitter is being criticised for its policy of suspending or restricting accounts. Earlier Twitter had suspended the account of lawyer Sanjay Hedge over his refusal to take down a tweet. Many alluded that the surge in Mastodon was related to that. A number of social media users had shifted to that site in protest.
In the recent past, Twitter’s content moderation process has also sparked a lot of debates.
The social media platform had also come under attack by Dalit activists and writers, who claimed that Twitter is suspending and restricting their accounts and is also selectively verifying them. They also alleged that the platform turned a blind eye to problematic trends.
Twitter has denied the charges and had put out a statement. “There’s been a lot of discussion this week about Twitter’s perceived bias in India. To be clear, whether it’s the development of policies, product features, or enforcement of our rules, we are impartial and do not take action based upon any ideology or political viewpoint,” it had tweeted on 7 November.
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This @IndiaExplained blocked me on Twitter just for pointing out discrepancy in his tweet. So let him not talk about hypocrisy.
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