Srinagar: The Indian Army’s Chinar Corps believes that its Twitter handle was suspended last week because of a request to get the account verified, and bots, ThePrint has learnt.
The Chinar Corps, officially called 15 Corps, deals with operations in the Kashmir Valley as well as the volatile Line of Control with Pakistan.
On 7 June, Twitter suspended the unit’s official account, only to restore it a few hours later. The restoration took place after Twitter’s move was widely reported in the Indian media.
According to Army officials privy to the development, the suspension might have been triggered by the requests Chinar Corps sent to Twitter for verifying their account.
A verification badge, which comes with a blue tick, indicates that the account is authentic.
Officials in the Chinar Corps told ThePrint that the unit had sent multiple requests to Twitter India seeking a verification of its official handle @ChinarcorpsIA. The last such request was sent a few weeks ago, and officials in the unit believe the suspension might be an error that took place during the process of verifying the handle.
A senior Army official said the Chinar Corps’ information centre believes that a lot of bots had started to follow its official handle on Twitter, which might have interrupted the verification process.
“We are assuming the verification process consists of checking followers of a particular account. In our case we believe that there must have been a spike in the number of bots following our account,” said the official who didn’t wish to be named.
“We have arrived at the conclusion after noticing that the number of our Twitter followers had decreased by more than two thousand when it was restored. However, the number of our followers picked up pace as soon as our account was back up,” he added.
“Now our account has more followers and is verified as well.”
At the time of its suspension, the handle had close to 40,300 followers. Currently, it has over 44,300 followers.
ThePrint reached Twitter India seeking a comment for this report but there was no response until the time of publishing.
‘Wrong impression of account’
The officials also said that the suspension might have been a “mistake” amid an exercise of targeting malicious accounts.
“That is where we believe that bots might have given a wrong impression of our account. We always conduct ourselves professionally including when we are in virtual or digital space,” said the official quoted above.
A second official elaborated on Chinar Corps’ “bid” at getting verified by Twitter. “The micro-blogging website has apparently put a hold on verifying accounts.”
“We are told accounts do get verified by Twitter after stringent scrutiny. This was the reason given to us and in our last communication it was said that the handle will get verified after elections (Lok Sabha 2019). Nevertheless it’s done now,” said the second official on condition of anonymity.
The micro-blogging website had put the verification process on hold in November 2017. In a series of tweets at the time, it had said that verification of a handle is not meant be an endorsement of it by Twitter.
Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 9, 2017
The move had come after the website faced heavy criticism for verifying the handle of Jason Kessler, an organiser of the far-right ‘Unite the Right’ protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Twitter currently has a mechanism in place to remove the ‘verified’ badge if the handle engages in harassment, incitement to violence, threats, promotes hate, or misleads people, among other provisions.
It was in this backdrop that the social media platform was at the receiving end in India after the suspension of Chinar Corps handle, with Twitter users accusing it of putting the Indian Army in the same category as hate propagandists.