X faces government orders to withhold accounts and posts in India


New Delhi: The Indian government has issued executive orders to X, the micro-blogging platform owned by Elon Musk, to take action on specific accounts and posts that are allegedly spreading misinformation or inciting violence in the country. X has complied with the orders, but has also expressed its disagreement and challenged them in court, citing the right to freedom of expression.

The executive orders and X’s response

According to X, the Indian government has ordered the platform to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties including significant fines and imprisonment. X did not disclose the details of the accounts and posts, or the reasons behind the orders, due to legal restrictions.

X said that it will withhold the accounts and posts in India alone, meaning that they will still be visible to users outside the country. However, X also said that it disagrees with these actions and maintains that freedom of expression should extend to these posts. X added that it has filed a writ appeal challenging the Indian government’s blocking orders, which remains pending. X also said that it has notified the impacted users of these actions in accordance with its policies.

X’s global government affairs team posted a statement on the platform, saying that they believe that making the executive orders public is essential for transparency, but they are unable to do so due to legal restrictions.

The background and the implications

The executive orders are the latest development in the ongoing dispute between X and the Indian government over the regulation of social media platforms in the country. Back in 2021, when X was still called Twitter and run by different leadership, the platform objected to the Centre’s guidelines for the platform and expressed concern about the “potential threat to freedom of expression”. The guidelines required the platforms to appoint local officers, remove unlawful content within a certain time frame, and comply with government requests for user information.

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The claims made by X are set to turn into a big debate across the country, as they raise questions about the balance between national security and individual rights, the role of social media platforms in shaping public opinion, and the impact of foreign companies on India’s digital sovereignty.