He is not the only one who organizes help for social media.
LinkedIn companies and non-profit organizations have launched donation initiatives, Ashutosh Gupta, the company’s state manager for India, said in an email. Raheel Khursheed, a former Twitter news anchor in India, said boosting messages is one way Indians feel helped.
“It’s amazing to watch others help patients with Covid-19 on Twitter, but it’s also disturbing to see how little we can do,” said Hurshid, who now runs video streaming company. “We don’t know what to do in a pandemic. I don’t have an oxygen cylinder lying around at home, so other than amplification, I can’t do much.”
New Delhi’s intervention has put social media companies in a difficult position in one of their largest markets, sandwiched between their users and the government, which recently introduced new rules that could keep them from carrying controversial publications.
Fears of censorship
Twitter declined to disclose the number of Covid-related posts on its platform in India and when asked about traffic related to India during the jump, Facebook sent CNN Business a list of seven community groups working on pandemic issues. .
In a statement last week, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said it had asked Twitter, Facebook and others to remove about 100 posts from users it accused of spreading false or misleading information. Consumers created a “panic” over the latest wave of Covid-19 by “using unrelated, old and out-of-context images or visuals, communally sensitive publications and misinformation about Covid-19 protocols,” the ministry said.
A Twitter spokesman confirmed that the company had kept these tweets in India, but users outside could still see them. Modi is particularly active on Twitter, with over 41 million followers.
The government order angered many social media users who criticized New Delhi for focusing on its own image instead of the crisis.
Pratik Sinha, co-founder of the fact-checking website Alt News, said he did not buy the government’s explanation that it had gone after fake news. “There are hundreds of thousands of fake news posts on social media during the pandemic, why download only those 100 and let the rest stay?” He said. “Lots of tweets [which were removed] they were in the form of an opinion without an element of misinformation, “he added.
Some of the tweets were posted by opposition politicians who blamed Modi for the devastating influx of Covid-19.
“What I’m surprised about is that this time Twitter actively removed these tweets – in what appears to be an act of censorship – when they faced the government in February,” said Nikhil Pahva, an Internet activist and founder of the technology website MediaNama. .
“The employee may be held personally liable in criminal proceedings related to hosted content if the platform fails to fulfill a number of obligations imposed on social media companies, including an obligation to download content based on a government order,” said Anirud Rastogi, founder of technology law firm Ikigaw Law, told CNN Business.
Tucked between a rock and a solid place
Twitter is not the only company that caught the attention last week of downloading posts.
On Wednesday, Facebook blocked posts with #ResignModi for several hours. “We temporarily blocked this hashtag by mistake, not because the Indian government asked us to and has since reinstated it,” a Facebook statement said.
And Pichai remains optimistic on the possibility of friendly work with the authorities in the country. “I think one of India’s strengths is a deep-rooted democratic tradition based on freedom of expression and allowing for a variety of perspectives … In the past, we have been able to work constructively with governments around the world and will continue this approach here.” said Pichai.
India is one of the largest markets for large technology companies, and it would be difficult for them to stand their ground if the Modi government continued to put pressure on them.
So far, most of these companies are unsure about the impact of the new rules on their operations. Experts don’t think they have much choice but to consider if they will continue to work in the fast-growing market.
“I hope Twitter stands up for its users and goes back [their decision to block tweets,]”said Khurshid.” But there is not much room to twist in terms of compliance, because there is now a prison for such things. “
“The institutions that protect freedom of speech in the United States are much stronger than those in India.”