India Threatens Action Against Twitter

Posted August 23rd, 2012 at 2:15 pm (UTC-5)
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The Indian government is threatening to take action against Twitter, if the social media website fails to remove material officials fear could further inflame ethnic tensions.

The directive comes after rumors spread over the Internet that Muslims would carry out attacks to avenge ethnic clashes in the northeastern state of Assam, where 80 people have been killed and 300,000 displaced since July. The false reports caused thousands to flee cities across India and return home to Assam last week.

On Thursday, the government called on Twitter to immediately remove “inflammatory and harmful” material. There was no immediate reaction from Twitter, which has some 16 million users in India.

India has so far blocked access to more than 300 separate Internet items, including content on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Al Jazeera television and the British newspaper Daily Telegraph. Websites such as Facebook and YouTube were also affected.

The government has also limited the use of text messages following the recent violence in Assam between members of the Bodo tribe and Bengali Muslim settlers.

On Thursday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States is in constant contact with American companies who may need assistance in dealing with the Indian government's directive. She told reporters in Washington, that “as the Indian government seeks to preserve security, we urge them to also take into account freedom of expression in the online world.”