Elon Musk is facing accusations of engaging in state censorship after . Twitter appears to have sided with the . Indian government in a turbulent free speech battle . Aver a documentary critical of the country’s prime minister.
The fight revolves around a new . BBC documentary about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A politician accused of allowing religious-based violence against Muslims. India is Hindu majority and Muslim minority.
Modi’s government said . It had ordered social media platforms, including Twitter, to censor posts about . The documentary, which it called “hostile propaganda and anti-India rubbish. And Twitter appeared to comply by. Blocking some tweets from being viewed inside India, according to screenshots. Notices posted this week by Twitter users.
“This tweet by @derekobrienmp . has been withheld in India in response to a legal claim. Read a notice posted by Indian Member of Parliament Derek O’Brien. The notice appeared in place of a tweet about the documentary. According to O’Brien’s screenshot.
Musk, the tech billionaire . Who bought Twitter last year and calls himself a free speech absolutist. Acknowledged the issue in a tweet Wednesday without making any. Promises about what he would do.
“First I’ve heard,” Musk wrote in response to a question from Canadian lawyer David Freiheit.
“It’s not possible for me to fix every aspect of Twitter globally overnight, while running . Tesla and SpaceX, among other things,” he added, referring to the many companies where he is CEO.
Musk’s brief reply was in contrast to the sometimes-detailed, personalized responses. He has given to other people who have complained to him about Twitter. “Complaint of the hotline operator online! Please mention your complaints below,” he tweeted in November.
Twitter did not immediately . Respond to a request for more comment, but a backlash is building against the. San Francisco company’s plain decision to follow India’s demands.
“Self-proclaimed free-speech absolutists like Elon Musk must enter the discussion. By withholding the . Twitter post on the BBC documentary, Musk has made it clear. That profit is more important to him than human rights. Rashid Ahmed, executive director of the . Indian American Muslim Council, an advocacy organization, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Modi’s opponents have for years accused him of inaction in . The face of violent Hindu nationalism. Including the 2002 massacre of more than 1,000 Muslims when he was head of the Indian state of Gujarat. Modi termed the allegation as a scandal.
Actor John Cusack was among Musk’s critics, calling him “a real profile in cowardice.” In 2016 Cusack, a board member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. Co-authored a book on government surveillance. With Indian novelist Arundhati Roy.
Matthew Yglesias, a journalist whose daily newsletter is popular inside the Biden administration. Said he feared what Twitter the mask might do to other hard-line figures like Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Consider Xi’s influence if he is willing to do this for Indian Prime Minister,” he wrote. (China is important to Tesla’s car business.)
Indian authorities continued a crackdown on the BBC documentary on Wednesday. As police in Delhi detained students as they gathered to watch a film called “India. The Modi Question,” Reuters reported.
It’s not unusual for tech companies to . Block content locally in response to court or other authority orders. In a transparency report from before Musk bought Twitter. The company said it received 47,572 local requests to remove content in. The second half of 2021; 97% of them were from five countries. The company said: Japan, Russia, South Korea, Turkey and India. Within India, Twitter said it complied 5.6% of the time.
Lumen, a Harvard . University-based database that collects government censorship . Requests issued to technology platforms, said in a blog post on Monday . That it had received a copy of India’s order on Twitter.
India’s order also applied to YouTube. And YouTube removed some copies of the documentary from its website and app. But YouTube said it acted in response to a copyright-related claim, and on Wednesday . The BBC said it had requested the clips be removed from websites and platforms . It believed infringed the BBC’s copyright.
The Internet Archive also removed copies of . The documentary, instead showing a notice . That the items “may be taken down for various reasons.” The archive did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Yet, the BBC reported that they had not made any similar request on Twitter.
“The BBC has not asked. Twitter to remove any content related to the documentary. the British broadcaster said in a statement.
The BBC has only broadcast. The documentary in the United Kingdom and has not yet licensed it to . Any third-party streaming services.
Raman Cheema, a former Google employee who is now a