India is currently struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19 in its borders, with more than 300 000 new cases being recorded over the past 24 hours, forcing the government to enforce a lockdown. While that should be the priority, it looks like the government is more concerned with criticism it is experiencing on social media.
So much so that it is now ordering Facebook and Twitter to remove posts that criticise the Indian government’s handling of the pandemic, namely when it comes to inadequate amount of hospital beds, medicine and oxygen that has been secured in order to fight COVID-19 in the country.
The situation as far as healthcare provisions is so dire that hospitals have turned to judicial courts for assistance.
According to the New York Times, an order was sent over the weekend asking the social media platforms to remove more than 100 posts related to criticism of the government.
“The order was aimed at roughly 100 posts that included critiques from opposition politicians and calls for Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, to resign. The government said that the posts could incite panic, used images out of context, and could hinder its response to the pandemic,” writes the publication.
The sites acquiesced to the demands, noting that it would not make the posts visible to Indian users.
In an emailed statement to the New York Times regarding the content, Twitter stated that if it, “is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of Twitter’s rules, we may withhold access to the content in India only.”
It therefore looks like the company is willing to be more lax in the enforcement of its own rules when it comes to India, namely as the country represents one of the largest mobile markets in the world.
That said, choosing to pick and choose where it enforces rules does little to quell concerns about censorship in India, which appears to be on the rise. As such, those wanting to disseminate accurate information from the ground, will need to turn to services like VPNs in order to do so.
For now though, India has a massive wave of infections to contend with as its citizens become increasingly malcontent.