On Monday, a team of officers from the Special Cell, an elite police force responsible for investigating terrorism and organized crime in New Delhi, came to Twitter’s offices in the city to ask the head of Twitter in India “a Communication to deliver “. . Police also tried to enter a Twitter office in Gurugram, a location that has been permanently closed, a Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
The move came three days after Twitter labeled “rigged media” tweets from half a dozen members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, accusing the Indian National Congress, the largest opposition party, of harming Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for dealing with the second wave of the Indian coronavirus pandemic.
In a picture circulated by members, they claimed that the Indian National Congress had, among other things, granted journalists affected by the pandemic special medical favors. AltNews, an Indian fact-checking website, found the picture to be fake. (Congress also filed a police complaint against Sambit Patra, the BJP spokesman who originally shared the picture.) On Friday, India’s IT ministry sent the company a letter asking it to remove the labels . Twitter didn’t.
A Twitter spokesman declined to comment.
Several Delhi police spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment. However, law enforcement sources told BuzzFeed News that as part of a “routine process” they went to the Twitter office to deliver a notification to Twitter after receiving “ambiguous responses” from Twitter India’s executive director, Manish Maheshwari.
In videos of the police action shown by BuzzFeed News, officers go to the receptionist in the lobby of the building in New Delhi where Twitter’s Indian headquarters are located and ask security guards about the location of the office. It is unclear whether the police entered the office.
Twitter has been linked to the Indian government for months. In February, the company refused to censor tweets from journalists, activists and politicians in the country, despite requests from the Indian government and threats from the IT ministry to arrest Twitter officials for not following the government’s line had pursued.
In late February, the Indian government unveiled new regulations to gain more power over social media companies. On Friday, according to Reuters, it issued an order in which platforms were asked to remove content that referred to an “Indian variant” of the coronavirus.