Elon Musk’s X Complies but ‘Disagrees’ with India’s Order to Suspend Accounts Linked to Farmers’ Protest

New Delhi, Feb 22, 2024, 12:15 PM IST

Days after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) issued emergency blocking orders against numerous social media accounts and posts associated with the ongoing farmers’ protests, social media company X (formerly Twitter), led by Elon Musk, announced on Thursday that it will withhold specific accounts and posts in compliance with the directives from the Indian government.

In its official statement through its Global Government Affairs account, X expressed its adherence to the executive orders issued by the Indian government, citing potential penalties, including fines and imprisonment, for non-compliance. However, the firm also emphasized its disagreement with the directives and reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of speech.

“The Indian government has issued executive orders requiring X to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties including significant fines and imprisonment,” the statement read. “In compliance with the orders, we will withhold these accounts and posts in India alone; however, we disagree with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.”

Furthermore, the Global Government Affairs account highlighted that a writ appeal challenging the Indian government’s orders regarding the suspension of accounts is currently pending. The statement underscored the company’s dedication to transparency by providing notice to the impacted users in accordance with its policies.

“Consistent with our position, a writ appeal challenging the Indian government’s blocking orders remains pending. We have also provided the impacted users with notice of these actions in accordance with our policies,” the statement added.

X also addressed concerns regarding the lack of disclosure of the executive orders due to legal restrictions, asserting that transparency is essential for accountability and to prevent arbitrary decision-making.

“Due to legal restrictions, we are unable to publish the executive orders, but we believe that making them public is essential for transparency. This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making,” the statement concluded.

The emergency orders issued by MeitY instructed social media platforms like X, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Snap to suspend 177 accounts linked to the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march by farmers near the national capital. These directives were issued on February 14, following the commencement of the march, with a mandate to maintain public order until February 19, after which the accounts could be restored.

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