Dorsey also highlights pressure from Nigeria and Turkey as Twitter faces censorship challenges

In a recent interview with Breaking Points, Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, revealed that India, despite being the world’s largest democracy, regularly issued requests for the social media giant to remove specific posts and accounts. These requests were often accompanied by threats of legal repercussions if Twitter did not comply.

Dorsey also mentioned similar pressures faced from governments in Nigeria and Turkey, both of which had imposed restrictions on the platform in their respective nations at different times in the past but later lifted the bans.

During Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency in Nigeria, the relationship between Twitter and the government was contentious, as the platform served as an outlet for youths, civil society, and dissidents to expose human rights abuses. Nigeria suspended Twitter in 2021 after the company removed a post from Buhari that threatened punishment for regional secessionists. The ban was lifted in January 2022 following negotiations with Twitter, including the establishment of a local office. However, the conditions and Twitter’s compliance remain uncertain.

Referring to Turkey, Dorsey stated, “Turkey is very similar [to India], we had so many requests from Turkey. We fought Turkey in their courts and often won, but they threatened to shut us down constantly.”

Indian officials and Turkish authorities have not yet responded to Dorsey’s claims.

Responding to Dorsey’s remarks, India’s Union IT Minister, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, vehemently refuted the allegations, describing them as an “outright lie” and an attempt to erase a “dubious period of Twitter’s history.”

Under Dorsey’s leadership, Twitter resisted government directives to remove posts or suspend accounts and even sued the Indian government to contest imposed block orders. However, Twitter’s compliance with India’s newly enacted IT regulations was delayed compared to its American counterparts. The regulations required firms to disclose contact information for regulatory compliance and establish mechanisms for grievance redressal.

In response to Twitter’s noncompliance, the Delhi Police conducted surprise visits to two of the company’s offices in India, raising concerns about freedom of expression.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar stated that Twitter under Dorsey’s regime repeatedly violated Indian law, displaying a lack of acceptance for the sovereignty of Indian law. He emphasized that India, as a sovereign nation, has the right to ensure compliance with its laws by all companies operating within its borders.

The Indian government has consistently denied allegations of online censorship and stated that Twitter’s assertions were baseless.

Twitter’s comments have sparked criticism from opposition parties, with Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate stating, “We demand that the government stops suppressing social media, stops suppressing, coaxing large sections of media into submission.”

Jack Dorsey’s revelations shed light on the challenges faced by foreign technology giants under the governance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Critics argue that the administration excessively censors content critical of the government, while the Indian government maintains that content removal orders are necessary to protect users and uphold the state’s sovereignty.

Twitter was acquired by Elon Musk in a $44 billion deal last year. Minister Chandrasekhar clarified that Twitter has been in compliance with Indian law since June 2022.

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