KARACHI: Micro-blogging website, Twitter has blocked around one million tweets of the accounts criticizing India for communication blackout in held Jammu and Kashmir after the Indian government asked the social media platform to do so, a report of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Friday.
The CPJ globally works for empowerment of media.
The investigation conducted by the journalists’ organisation revealed that hundreds of thousands of tweets had been blocked in India since August 2017, under the company’s country withheld content policy for accounts that focus on Kashmir.
Among dozens of accounts that were withheld, CPJ identified several besides @KashmirNarrator that were sharing news and opinion, raising serious questions about what safeguards are in place to ensure freedom of the press and the free flow of information.
Indian legal experts told CPJ that the requests are issued with limited oversight and transparency, leaving scant avenues for appeal. And while Twitter does not comply with every request, more accounts were withheld in India in the second half of 2018 than in the rest of the world combined, according to Twitter’s transparency reports.
CPJ analyzed every account involved, whether the request was based on a single tweet, several tweets, or the account itself, reviewing more than 400 in total. Around 45 percent of those accounts mentioned Kashmir in the handle or bio, or had recently tweeted about Kashmir, according to CPJ’s review.
Ninety-three of those accounts were withheld in India when CPJ tested them in September and October 2019. Another 29 individual tweets from different accounts were also withheld. The vast majority of the withheld accounts were from the group that referenced Kashmir, hosting over 920,000 tweets between them, CPJ found.
David Kaye, the U.N. special rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression, told CPJ that he wrote a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, asking for transparency about the company’s decision to withhold “tweets and accounts when they have participated in discussions concerning Kashmir.” Kaye received no public response, he told CPJ in August. “We don’t have any real clarity about what’s going on,” he said.
@TheVoiceKashmir, another censored account with 43,000 tweets and nearly 14,000 followers as of September 2019, shares local information and opinions anonymously, according to CPJ interviews with two of its operators.