Twitter restricts numerous high-profile accounts in India

The platform’s problems in the country offer a stark example of the difficulty of adhering to its free-speech principles amid government worries over its influence.

Twitter held firm when the Indian government demanded last week that the social media platform take down hundreds of accounts that criticized the government for its conduct during protests by angry farmers.

On Wednesday, under threat of prison for its local employees, Twitter relented.

The company, based in San Francisco, said it had permanently blocked over 500 accounts and moved an unspecified number of others from view within India after the government accused them of making inflammatory remarks about Narendra Modi, the country’s prime minister. Twitter said it had acted after the government issued a notice of noncompliance, a move that experts said could put the company’s local employees in danger of spending up to seven years in custody.

In a blog post published on Wednesday, Twitter said it was not taking any action on the accounts that belonged to media organizations, journalists, activists or politicians, saying it did not believe the orders to block them “are consistent with Indian law.” It also said it was exploring its options under local laws and had requested a meeting with a senior government official.

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