The New IT rules took effect from February 25, 2021, giving social media websites a transitory period of 3 months to comply with them. The new digital rules entail social media companies identify the person behind a flagged message and conduct additional research into the matter to facilitate a safe browsing environment. Twitter refused to comply with the new digital rules and criticized them by calling them “inhibit free, open public conversation.” With the transitory period ending on May 25, 2021, all social media companies will have to deal with consequences due to failure to comply with the new digital rules.
Along with identifying the originator of flagged content on the social network, social media agencies were to appoint Indian- based officials – Chief compliance officer. While other social media agencies fell in line, Twitter made zero efforts to comply with the new rules, losing its legal shield as an interim on May 26, 2021 which leads to provoking communal sentiments. Being functional in India for over ten years now, the Ministry gave Twitter one last chance to put in an effort and appoint the required officials and comply with the new rules. The microblogging network had previously taken a stand against the new digital rules. Twitter has gotten a slap on the wrist from the Indian government time and again which was a huge provoking communal sentiment. Twitter tagged political posts of the ruling party’s leaders as manipulated media which left the Centre fuming.
A report has been filed against Twitter in a First Information Report(FIR) regarding the endangerment and alleged assault on an elderly man on June 5 for not removing ‘misleading’ third-party content linked to the incident.
The elderly, Sufi Abdul Samad, had alleged that a group cornered him and forced him to chant “Vande Mataram” and “Jai Shri Ram.” Abdul’s refusal to do so resulted in the group cutting off his beard forcefully. However, the Uttar Pradesh Police statements differ from Abdul’s statements as he is believed to be lying. UP police claim that this was not a communal incident, as implied in the tweet. Abdul was attacked by six men – a group of Hindus and Muslims, over amulets sold to them that were fake talismans. Some videos were shared by a couple of journalists and social media sites, Twitter. The police have booked everyone about the case and charged them for inciting “communal sentiments” with posts sharing the man’s allegations.
The UP Police shared a press release on the night of June 14 on Twitter, sharing details of the unfortunate incident and refuting the provoking communal angle. And therefore twitter has faced the provoking communal sentiments. Despite the clarification, flagged tweets were not removed from the microblogging network. Due to their non-compliance with the new digital rules that would entail flagging the viral video as manipulated media, Twitter has lost its legal protection and is liable for penal action. The police believe the motive behind sharing these tweets was to incite “provoke communal sentiments” using the man’s allegations. These “misleading” tweets were then forwarded and retweeted by thousands.