In a row, over BJP leader Sambit Patra’s tweet on an alleged “Congress toolkit” being marked as “manipulated media” by Twitter. Delhi Police teams went to Twitter India’s offices in South Delhi and at Gurgaon to hand the notice in person after finding the company’s replies allegedly “ambiguous” on similar issues. Defending the move, the government questioned the “hue and cry” over it, saying this was the third notice to Twitter.
Government sources said, “Instead of cooperating with law enforcement, Twitter has tried to play the victim by roguishly overplaying a routine procedure this time.”
The visit “was required as we wanted to determine who is the right person to serve a notice, as replies by Twitter India Managing Director have been very vague,” Delhi Police told Afternoon Voice.
The case involves BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet on May 18, shared by several leaders of the ruling party, which had screenshots of what he called a “Congress toolkit” aimed at discrediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government’s handling of Covid.
Congress wrote to Twitter saying the alleged “toolkit” was fake and forged letterheads had been used in the screenshots in circulation. The opposition party also said it had filed FIRs against BJP leaders who had shared the documents.
Advocate Satish Maneshinde said, “Well, the Police Machinery is using its mighty power in an unconnected matter. I hope the powers that be restrain such action.”
Whereas a Mumbai entrepreneur Nancy Nagvekar said, “This is an absolutely ridiculous use of government resources for political gain. I didn’t see Delhi police helping people get hospital beds, or oxygen cylinders or arranging cremation facilities. Barring the raid on “Khan market hotel” for oxygen concentrators, Delhi police did nothing, when black marketing was going on for medicines or ambulances etc. But they went to “investigate” BV Srinivas as to how he was helping people. And now they have time to go to raid Twitter for such a ridiculous thing. It just shows how guilty the BJP/central government is. Since a case has been filed by Congress on the “fake toolkit”, the central government through the Delhi police is intimidating Twitter, so that they don’t probably give evidence to the court. This is a pure intimidation tactic.”
Senior journalist Brajesh Misra told Afternoon Voice, “The approach of Police towards this entire issue was wrong. Social media platforms are for public opinions and freedom of speech. Delhi police should refrain from exaggerating things to remain in the limelight or create pressure. Their action conveyed a wrong message to people of India.”
“Every party involved in the conflict will use and abuse all means and methods available. History is full of examples where governments were collapsed and countries were razed with the movement on Twitter. The grave problem with Twitter is, it has no ability to judge the truth and motives behind any post. Neither it can judge the impact or chain of incidents it can trigger in the real world due to the motivated and manipulative Tweets. We have seen many ugly conflicts between twitter and the government, and we expect to see more. Welcome to the era of misinformation, where you can’t find truth and you can remain unbiased. Welcome to the era of misinformation, where you cannot find truth and neither can you remain unbiased. Congress and BJP getting into the Twitter/Toolkit war will be a hard one to resolve as Twitter is not a Judicial body,” said Ajit Hatti, Cybersecurity personnel.
Krishna Hegde, Shiv Sena leader said, “Today if anyone shows the Modi government a mirror on any issue, they are either Raided by the government agencies, jailed or called anti-national. The government wanted absolute sway over the Print, Electronic and Social Media to suppress independent thoughts and expressions of the people.”
Vedant Sharma (@mediagaze), a microblogger stated that “We are heading towards banana republic with the messenger being shot, whereas the manipulator being spared as he is among the top shots of the political party that is ruling us. It looks like the govt is not ready to accept the truth, but haunt those who expose liars within the power. What a dictatorship?”
“Nobody is above law. If government agencies have any information, it is their duty to investigate. What is so great about Twitter. It is one of the many social media software. Let the agency do the work. Why jump on conclusions?” said Avadhut Wagh BJP spokesperson.
AAP leader Preeti Sharma Menon said, “The Delhi police visiting Twitter office when they knew their staff is working from home, and there are not going to get any physical proof is nothing but an act of intimidating. Raiding an International social media company along with media is to threaten the opposition in India, I hope these social media giants do not succumb to this kind of dictatorial and fascist act. To intimidate and scare the free media and social media platforms is nothing sort of a crime in this free world today.”
“Twitter has been very vocal about its far-left stand on many issues. They have been silencing many Indian right-wing personalities by either removing their tweets or completely blocking them from the platform. It has been going on for a while now. The recent incident of the “manipulated tweet” tag on the BJP Spokesperson’s tweet has made this issue even worse. There is a possibility that this raid is a kind of retaliation from the Indian government,” said Naveen Singh (@hackindia).
Zankrut Oza, working at Intersection of Digital Communications said, “In my personal opinion, Twitter without any legal proof or even before the court can decide whether Toolkit exposed by BJP is fake or not as alleged by Congress, started to label tweets as Manipulated Media. If Twitter India has any proof, they must share it with the police or publicly accept that they have tagged tweets of senior BJP leaders falsely under the pressure of Congress. Police raiding Twitter India office is a simple case of the law taking its own course and I hope Twitter will cooperate in the investigation.”
Social media bug Anil Tiwari (@Interceptors) said, “In order to determine if media have been significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated, Twitter may use their own technology or receive reports through partnerships with third parties. Guess twitter has info on metadata on which basis they can find if the documents have been edited or not. As the government has third parties to manage covid, Twitter also has to counter fake news. The question is “were the Cops able to find the original copy of the toolkit which BJP posted? did they check the source of this toolkit?”
Kanchan Srivastava, Founder Editor of The Dialogue said, “The raid appears to be an attempt to divert international media’s attention from the devastation and mess in India caused by the poor handling of the pandemic. Sky News, Reuters, New York Times and many international media houses have published stories of mass deaths due to COVID & burial on banks of Ganga with horrific visuals which are being shared widely on social media including Twitter amplifying the outrage.”
“Twitter is not above law. It cannot be allowed interference without facts. Twitter has crossed the limit this time and must justify its action,” said Neeraj Arya, Consultant Modern Retail.
Aspiring Journalist Priyanshi Mathur said, “Bharatiya Janata Party accused Congress of spewing venom against the Prime Minister and creating a toolkit to tarnish the image of the party. Meanwhile, Congress has denied making any such toolkit and accused BJP of creating a ‘fake toolkit’. In a scenario, where thousands of people are dying every day due to lack of oxygen, medicines and proper medical care, these politicians need to ask themselves – is it really important to focus on things like these? We as citizens of India do not want to get into ugly spats between political leaders amidst the pandemic, what we really want is proper medical facilities, vaccines for all and the top leaders to focus on how to make the conditions better for us.”
Medico student Alisha said, “In these testing times, it’s difficult to know who to trust and whom to not. The times are bad. With everyone pinning blame on each other makes you question – who to trust? And when will this end? Twitter is one of the social media platforms that people look up to for raw news and unbiased information about anything. When the second wave of the pandemic hit us hard and there was a shortage and unavailability of beds/oxygen/medicines, many resorted to Twitter to seek help, and many of them received help too. Thus, Twitter has played an important role in connecting and helping these people battling covid and helped save the lives of many. It’s shocking to hear about this incident even more so, as no definite statement has been proved.”
Ajay Ghate, General Secretary, AiMea (All India Media Employees Association) said, “This seems to be shown off by Delhi police, pandemic restrictions are on. All MNC’s working from home, nobody attending the office then who will find it even late at night in the office. It’s the funniest thing. Maybe state police are trying to dismay the social media companies. Even so, there is nothing significant handed to them through this activity. As per the Indian rule for social media intermediates, I didn’t think that state police cannot probe these social media intermediates.”
“Twitter seems to have malaise intentions in tagging users, those who are opposing ‘Toolkit’. These social media channels need some control by law. Many times, it is seen that they are targeting nationalists while helping and promoting ‘टुकडे टुकडे गँग’,” said Guru Karlekar a school teacher.
“As a matter of fact, the controversy of Twitter and many related matters are often going on in social media, sometimes the tweet of people is lost on Twitter, sometimes the followers of someone gets reduced. Actress Payal Rohatgi’s account was suspended. Actually, Twitter has some policies for its users, on the basis of which Twitter is running in India, whenever Twitter feels certain things are going against the policy, they are bound to take action. The question is here, does Twitter take all its decisions based on its policy or is it behaving high command who decides its policy from time to time?” said Gaurav Mishra (@gauravstvnews) of Sudarshan News.