Drop 'manipulated media' tag, govt directs Twitter over Congress's toolkit tweet

·3 min read
Union IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (right) and Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra at a press conference in New Delhi. Photo: Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Union IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (right) and Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra at a press conference in New Delhi. Photo: Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Indian government has objected to Twitter using 'manipulated media' tag for tweets on an alleged Congress toolkit used to target the Centre over its COVID-19 handling, sources said.

The government on Friday directed microblogging platform Twitter to remove the 'manipulated media' tag as the matter is pending before law enforcement agency, and made it clear that the social media platform cannot pass judgment when the issue is under investigation.

Investigation will determine the veracity of the content and not Twitter, it has asserted while asking the microblogging platform not to interfere in the investigation process.

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According to sources, the Ministry of Electronics and IT has written a strong communication to the global team of Twitter registering its objection to the 'manipulated media' tag on tweets made by some political leaders with reference to the toolkit allegedly created to undermine, derail and demean the efforts of the government against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its communication to Twitter, the ministry has stated that a complaint has already been made by one of the concerned parties before the local law enforcement agency questioning the veracity of the toolkit and the same is under investigation.

While the local law enforcement agency is undertaking the investigation, Twitter has unilaterally drawn a conclusion in this matter and arbitrarily tagged it as 'manipulated media', government sources said.

Such tagging by Twitter appears pre-judged, prejudiced and a deliberate attempt to colour the investigation by local law enforcement agency, the sources pointed out.

The ministry has termed such unilateral action by Twitter as an effort to influence the fair investigation process and a clear overreach, which is totally unwarranted.

The ministry has further stated in its communication that Twitter unilaterally chose to go ahead and designate certain tweets as 'manipulated', pending investigation by the law enforcement agency.

Such action not only dilutes the credibility of Twitter as a neutral and unbiased platform facilitating exchange of views by the users but also puts a question mark on Twitter's status as an 'intermediary', they said.

A Public Interest Litigation too has been filed seeking an investigation into toolkit on COVID-19 pandemic by the National Investigation Agency and suspension of membership of Congress party if the allegations against them are found to be true.

This comes in the backdrop of Twitter labelling as 'manipulated media' a tweet by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra on the alleged toolkit prepared by the Congress to target the Modi government.

Twitter says it 'may label Tweets that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated.'

The Congress on Thursday had written to Twitter asking it to permanently suspend the accounts of BJP leaders including party chief JP Nadda and Union minister Smriti Irani for allegedly 'spreading misinformation and unrest in the society'.

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The opposition party has insisted that the toolkit documents flagged by the BJP are 'fake' and has filed a police complaint against its leaders. The Chhattisgarh police has registered an FIR to probe the matter.

Inputs from PTI, ANI, Agencies

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