In a recent interview, Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, claimed that India, as the world’s largest democracy, frequently requested the removal of specific posts and accounts, often accompanied by warnings of potential legal consequences for non-compliance.
In the interview with YouTube Channel Break Point Dorsey noted, “India is one of the countries which had many requests regarding farmers’ protests and certain critical journalists.” He said the Indian government threatened to shut down Twitter in the country, raid employees’ homes, and to also close down Twitter offices.
“It manifested in ways such as: ‘we will shut Twitter down in India’ – which is a huge market for us; ‘we will 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,” Dorsey said.
Tensions between Twitter and the Indian government escalated in early 2021, as per the platform, when it was directed to suspend several accounts and limit the visibility of specific hashtags related to the farmers’ protests against proposed agricultural reforms. Initially, Twitter resisted the government’s directives and even filed a lawsuit challenging the imposed restrictions on tweets and accounts, claims Dorsey.
Compared to its American counterparts, Twitter took longer to comply with India’s newly enacted IT regulations. These regulations required companies to provide contact information for regulatory compliance and establish mechanisms for addressing grievances. Twitter’s non-compliance with these regulations resulted in surprise visits by the Delhi Police to its offices.
However, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Indian IT minister, refuted Dorsey’s claims and argued that Twitter had repeatedly violated Indian law under Dorsey’s leadership. Chandrasekhar stated that Twitter failed to comply with Indian law between 2020 and 2022, finally meeting the requirements in June 2022. He said that false reports and misinformation could have inflamed the situation further.
“This is an outright lie… Perhaps an attempt to brush out that very dubious period of Twitter’s history,” federal minister Rajeev Chandrashekar tweeted on Tuesday.
Dorsey also mentioned similar pressures faced by Twitter in Turkey and Nigeria. In Turkey, Twitter often engaged in legal battles and achieved favorable outcomes in court, but the platform faced constant threats of being shut down.
Jack Dorsey stepped down as Twitter’s CEO in 2021, and the platform was subsequently acquired by Elon Musk in 2022.