Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has revealed that India issued repeated demands for the social media site to remove certain posts and accounts, along with threats of legal action if the company did not comply.

Speaking to news outlet Breaking Points, Dorsey said India had made many requests to remove posts relating to farmers’ protests and critical journalists, and had threatened to shut down Twitter in the country, as well as raid the homes of its employees, if the company did not comply.

“India is one of the countries which had many requests around farmers protests, around particular journalists which were critical of the government,” he said.

While Twitter had previously resisted such demands, in early 2021 it was forced to comply with government orders to suspend accounts and restrict hashtags after the government threatened legal action.

The majority of the accounts targeted had supported farmers’ protests, which were protesting against the government’s introduction of three laws that loosened rules around the sale, pricing, and storage of farm produce — rules that have protected them from the free market for decades.

Dorsey said Twitter had been slow to comply with newly-enacted IT regulations in India, which require companies to provide contact information for those responsible for regulatory compliance, among other requirements.

India Raided Twitter Offices in 2021

In 2021, a unit of the Delhi Police made surprise visits to two of Twitter’s offices in India after the company failed to comply with the regulations.

Twitter described this as a threat to freedom of expression.

Dorsey claimed the orders from the Indian government “manifested in ways such as ‘we will shut Twitter down in India’… ‘we would raid the homes of your employees’, which they did; ‘we will shut down your offices if you don’t follow suit’. And this is India, a democratic country.”

The social media giant once vigorously resisted government directives to remove posts or suspend accounts.

In July last year, the company even sued the Indian government to challenge some of the block orders on tweets and accounts.

In its lawsuit, filed in the Karnataka High Court in Bengaluru, Twitter alleged that New Delhi had abused its power by ordering it to arbitrarily and disproportionately remove several tweets from its platform.

Meanwhile, Twitter is not the only social media site to have faced government demands to remove posts and user accounts.

Facebook, for example, has faced similar orders from governments around the world, including in India, Russia, China, and the UK.

India Refutes Claims by Jack Dorsey

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the federal deputy minister for information technology in India, refuted Dorsey’s remarks and alleged that the Twitter co-founder is attempting to “brush out that very dubious period of Twitter’s history.”

Twitter under Dorsey and his team “were in repeated and continuous violations of India law,” Chandrasekhar said.

The minister claimed Twitter did not believe it needed to comply with Indian law. He added:

“As a matter of fact they were in non-compliance with law repeatedly from 2020 to 2022 and it was only June 2022 when they finally complied. No one went to jail nor was Twitter ‘shutdown.’ Dorsey’s Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law.”

India has been one of the biggest markets for Twitter.

According to data by Statista, Twitter had around 23.6 million Indian users by January 2022, making it the third-largest market for the social media platform.

The United States and Japan, with 76.9 million and 58.95 million users, are the top two markets for Twitter.

Image Source: Statista

It is worth noting that Twitter’s growth in India has also been impressive over the past decade.

Data by Statista shows there were only 11.5 million Indian Twitter users in 2013, which surged to 15.8 million in 2014 before reaching its height of 23.6 million last year.

Image Source: Statista

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