Twitter entered into conflict with India on Wednesday, saying: The government order to remove some accounts is not in line with Indian law, while politicians urged their followers to switch to the competing local app. Koo.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ordered the Twitter platform to remove more than 1,100 accounts, saying it was spreading disinformation about widespread protests by farmers against the new agricultural laws.
In a post issued today, Wednesday, Twitter said: It has not fully complied with some of the requests because it believes that it is not in line with Indian law.
The statement reads: In line with our principles in defense of freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts consisting of media entities, journalists, activists and politicians.
The move puts the company and its executives at the center of a political firestorm, as the government threatened legal action that could lead to fines or imprisonment for Twitter officials responsible for implementing government directives.
Public opinion is divided in one of Twitter’s main markets, with some lawyers saying Twitter should comply or challenge the matter in court, while activists blame the government for using legal provisions to curtail freedom of expression.
It is unusual for Twitter to post a blog post before a planned meeting between the company’s executives and its chief of staff on Wednesday, the Indian Information Technology Ministry said, adding that it issued a response at a later time.
In a sign of growing discontent with Twitter, the Ministry of Information Technology published its statement on Koo first, as it has only 41,000 followers, less than a tenth of its followers on Twitter.
After government orders, Twitter permanently suspended more than 500 accounts, and said: These accounts participate in manipulating the platform, while restricting access within India only for many other accounts.
The stakes appear high for Twitter in a country of 1.3 billion people, as the platform has millions of Indian users, and Modi, his cabinet ministers and other leaders use it to communicate with the public.
And with the controversy casting a shadow on Twitter, many Indian politicians and users are joining the Twitter-like social media platform Koo, which launched last year.
The hashtag #kooapp was the most popular on Twitter in India on Wednesday with nearly 21,000 posts, followed by #BanTwitter.
Several people, including Minister of Commerce (Piyush Goyal), posted tweets this week saying I am now on Koo.
Goyal, who has 9.6 million Twitter followers, has a pinned tweet asking people to contact him on the Indian platform.
(Sambit Patra), the national spokesman for Modi’s ruling party, and Chief Information Technology Officer (Amit Malviya) also joined Koo on Wednesday.
The platform, Koo, which carries the logo of a yellow bird, said that downloads have increased 10-fold in the past two days, reaching more than 3 million.