Last evening, India’s information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Twitter had locked his account for an hour for posting content in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of “the USA”. The action was “highly peculiar”, he declared, part of some “agenda” on the social media company’s part and a “gross violation of the Modi government’s new IT rules.
Although Twitter clarified that it was a routine practice to flag copyright infringements under the US law, the anchors in TV news channel studios took it upon themselves to outrage on the minister’s behalf.
Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News, on his nightly DNA show, declared that Twitter’s action against Prashad was retaliation against the Narendra Modi government for landing a blow to the company’s “ego” by pulling it up for not complying with the new IT rules. He said “big and foreign” companies such as Twitter were akin to the East India Company: they come to this country on the pretext of doing business and then start “imposing their own rules”.
Another Zee News anchor Aman Chopra titled the Friday episode of his daily show, Taal Thok Ke, “Twitter ne hadd paar kar di?”. Twitter crossed the line?
“Will Twitter teach the law to the country’s law minister now?” the visibly agitated anchor demanded to know. “It has definitely crossed the line today.” He termed the temporary locking of the minister’s account as “digital dadagiri”.
If this wasn’t enough, he went on another show called Desh Hit to call Twitter’s move an action “against 137 crore Indians”.
Rubika Liyaquat of ABP News denounced it as Twitter’s “hooliganism” and “dictatorship”. “Twitter will not abide by Indian rules in India but will enforce American rules in the country,” the anchor said, calling it the company’s “highhandedness”.
Times Now held two debates of about 40 minutes each to pull up Twitter. On her Newshour Agenda show, Padmaja Joshi asked whether Twitter “locking out” the Indian minister because of an American law meant the company’s power had gone to its head. She wondered if the move was designed to “deliberately set up confrontation” after the company was apparently for not removing videos of an elderly Msulim man being assaulted in Ghaziabad.
Joshi’s senior colleague, Navika Kumar, declared on her primetime show that Twitter had a “death wish”, working as it was according to its own rules and laws.