India’s government is forcing X to censor accounts via executive order amid the farmers’ protest

X, formerly Twitter, is once again restricting content in India. The company’s Global Government Affairs account announced that the Indian government had issued an executive order mandating that X withhold specific accounts and posts or face penalties such as “significant fines and imprisonment.” X further stated that it doesn’t agree with the order and is challenging it.

The designated posts and accounts will only be blocked within India, however, there’s no clear list of those affected. “Due to legal restrictions, we are unable to publish the executive orders, but we believe that making them public is essential for transparency,” the Global Government Affairs post stated. “This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making.” X claims to have notified all affected parties.

The posts likely center around the ongoing farmers’ protest, which, since February 13, has seen multiple farmers’ unions on strike in a bid to get floor pricing, or a minimum support price, for crops sold. Violent clashes between protesters and police have already resulted in at least one death, AP News reports. Mohammed Zubair, an Indian journalist and co-founder of Alt News, shared purported screenshots of suspended accounts belonging to individuals critical of the current government, on-the-ground reporters, prominent farm unionists, and more.

This forced blocking is far from the first incident between X and India. In 2022, X sued the Indian government for “arbitrarily and disproportionately” applying its IT laws passed the year prior. The law required the company to hire a point of contact for the local authorities and a domestic compliance officer. Prior to this concession, in early 2021, the Indian government had threatened to jail X’s employees if posts about the then occurring farmers’ protest stayed live on the site. Shortly after, the country mandated that X remove content criticizing its COVID-19 response.

India dismissed X’s suit in June 2023, claiming the company didn’t properly explain why it had ever delayed complying with the country’s IT laws. The court also fined X 5 million rupees ($60,300), stating, “You are not a farmer but a billon dollar company.” The order followed shortly after Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey claimed that India had threatened to raid employees’ homes and shut down the site if the company hadn’t taken down posts during the farmers’ protest.


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