Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey revealed that the Indian government made several requests for the company to delete accounts associated to farmers’ demonstrations and critical of the government. Dorsey also revealed that Twitter was threatened with a shutdown and raids on its employees’ residences. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, responded by accusing Twitter of recurrent violations of Indian law and of weaponizing falsehoods.
In a recent interview with Breaking Points on YouTube, Jack Dorsey discussed the challenges Twitter encountered from foreign governments during his term as CEO, particularly on India’s demands. According to Dorsey, the Indian government made several requests regarding farmer protests and critical journalists, resulting in “threats” of shutting down Twitter in the nation, invading employees’ residences, and closing its offices.
According to Jack, the Indian government’s feud with Twitter heated up during the height of the farmers’ protest in 2021, when the Centre demanded that almost 1,200 accounts with supposed “Khalistan” ties be removed from the platform. Previously, over 250 accounts had been requested to be removed. Although Twitter first obliged by blocking some of the accounts, they were eventually unblocked, causing the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEIT) to express dissatisfaction. Twitter cited free expression as the reason for its failure to further block these accounts, further straining its relationship.
In May 2021, after Twitter flagged posts by ruling party leaders as “manipulated media,” alleging a Congress plot against the Prime Minister and Central Government, the Delhi Police’s Special Cell, under the Union Home Ministry, visited Twitter India’s offices to serve a notice.
Responding to Dorsey’s claims, Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar countered that Twitter faced no jail time or shutdown despite repeated non-compliance with Indian law from 2020 to 2022. He criticized Dorsey’s regime for failing to acknowledge Indian sovereignty and accused Twitter of behaving as if Indian laws did not apply to them. Chandrasekhar emphasized that India, as a sovereign nation, has the right to ensure compliance with its laws by all companies operating within its borders.
Chandrasekhar defended the government’s actions during the farmers’ protest, stating that takedown orders were necessary due to the proliferation of misinformation and fake reports of genocide. He criticized Twitter’s partisan behavior, noting their reluctance to remove misinformation from the platform in India, even though they had taken action during similar events in the United States.
Twitter’s new CEO, Elon Musk, had referred to the regulations as “strict” and expressed a willingness to comply with the government’s blocking orders to avoid potential legal consequences for Twitter employees.