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COVID-19 Destroys India. Modi Government is Trying to See Social Media.


Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Photos

A worker renovates a funeral home for those who died with COVID-19 at a mass funeral at a New Delhi crematorium on April 29, 2021.

India, a country with a population of 1.4 billion, has been hit by a second deadly wave of corona virus plague. But despite the fact that his health profession is resting with his fire station and burning with thousands of funerals, its leaders are working hard to block the internet.

Last week, the IT minister in India ordered Twitter banned more than 50 tweets from appearing in the country. Days later, a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Indian Times said Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube also removed comments against the government. Last week, ordinary people running WhatsApp and Telegraph groups to help people access medical supplies and hospital beds he complained threats to arrest them, as well as police in Uttar Pradesh state he complained against a man who asked for oxygen from his late grandfather on Twitter, saying he was “spreading lies.” Wednesday, posts with the hashtag #ResignModi he is missing from Facebook for a few hours. And although the company retaliated by saying that the Indian government did not ask for a review, it did not provide details of why the hashtag was closed.

This – which took place in a few days when the criticism of the Indian government reached its peak – marks a decline in the opposition in the world’s largest democracy. As riots in opposition to the increasingly oppressive regime against social networking sites, one of the last places citizens offer their views. New rules has given the government the power to destroy existing ones, forcing US technical platforms, which see India as an important market, to link between growth and free speech.

This is not the first time the Indian government has tried to talk online. In 2012, before Modi came to power, the government of the India Progressive Alliance (UPA) in India ordered internet providers to block more than a dozen Twitter accounts, including those of right-wing individuals.

In February, the government of India ordered Twitter to remove more than 250 tweets criticizing the government’s handling of protests over new agricultural laws. Although Twitter closed many accounts, it opened up former journalists, politicians, and politicians, despite threats from the Indian government.

“India’s online monitoring is strongly linked to criticism of government regulations.”

“But now, there is a temporary increase and the amount of restrictions required,” Apar Gupta, director of the digital rights organization Internet Freedom Foundation, told BuzzFeed News. “India’s online monitoring is strongly linked to criticism of government regulations.”

Over the weekend, India’s IT ministry tried to express its views in an unsigned document that it shared with journalists, and was reached by BuzzFeed News.

“[g]Overnment receives criticism, genuine requests for help and suggestions from the anti-COVID19 team, “the letter said.” But it is important to take action against those who are abusing them during this difficult time because of the crisis. “

The ministry cited a handful of 53 tweets that ordered closure as examples of the crisis. There are four tweets calling the plague coronavirus a myth, and four others with “old and inconsistent images of patients and corpses.” At least two of the four of them are real-life examples, screened from India Alt News and Newschecker who analyzed the images told BuzzFeed News.

As an example of how the boundary gap between the removal of harmful rumors and the banning of political ideas may be minimal, the ministry has not commented on anything that has been downgraded. A BuzzFeed News poll of all the other banned tweets showed that he appeared to be criticizing the Indian Prime Minister. One of the banned tweets, for example, is by Moloy Ghatak, a minister from West Bengal. He blames Modi for not managing the epidemic and for sending vaccines abroad in India.

Neither Ghatak nor the IT ministry have responded

One of the banned tweets in India was by Pawan Khera, the spokesman for the Indian National Congress, India’s largest opposition party. The tweet, posted on April 12, features photos of Kumbh Mela, a Hindu religious rally held earlier this month in which millions of people swim in the river as the number of coronaviruses rises sharply. Indians and journalists from around the world have criticized the Indian government for allowing the conference. In his tweet, Khera contrasted India’s lack of response to Kumbh Mela with what happened last year, when members of the Islamic Conference were accused of spreading coronavirus while the country had fewer than 1,000 cases.

“Why was my tweet banned?” Khera told BuzzFeed News. “This is the answer I want from the Indian government.”

“Which rules do I break? What rumors are I spreading? Did I cause panic? These are the questions that need to be answered, “said Khera, who sent a legal request to the IT and Twitter service this week.

“If I don’t hear anything, I’ll take them to court.”

“If I don’t hear anything, I’ll take them to court,” he said. I need legal aid to protect my right to speak. ”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Experts say that the ministry’s offer does not give enough reasons to set up a TV station to record notes. “Ever since the government started sending fake signs?” Asked Pratik Sinha, editor of Alt News. “And why are these tweets mentioned [out of 53]? ”

Media links are not the only site of damage. Over the past few weeks, volunteer groups of WhatsApp and Telegraph groups have been expanding their applications, enabling people to access medical supplies, life-saving medicines, and hospital beds spread across the country. But just a few days ago, some of them left. According to a reports on India’s Quint news website, volunteers leading the groups received calls from people claiming to be Delhi police asking them to detain them.

Delhi police he refuses this, but at that time, the people were confused. A WhatsApp group network run by more than 300 volunteers that was downloaded in recent days even though they did not receive a call. “We decided not to take chances,” the group’s founder, who wants to remain anonymous, told BuzzFeed News. “[I felt] frustration and anger. ”

Experts say the biggest problem in this regard is the lack of transparency – from government and platform. Last week, Twitter revealed much of the law of the law to the Ministry of Justice in Lumen, a Harvard University repository that allows companies to share information coming from governments around the world. But Facebook, Instagram, and Google have not commented on ban in major markets, in public or in BuzzFeed News when asked.

“He has not spoken publicly about this,” Gupta of the Internet Freedom Foundation said. “The main work is transparency by the government, but there is no transparency in the beginning.”


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