India Says Dorsey’s Claim Twitter Was Threatened With Shutdown ‘An Outright Lie’

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
June 14, 2023World News
India Says Dorsey’s Claim Twitter Was Threatened With Shutdown ‘An Outright Lie’
Then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey speaks during a town hall in New Delhi, India, on Nov. 12, 2018. (Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters)

In a June 12 Breaking Points interview, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the Indian government threatened to shut Twitter down if the social media company failed to take action against voices critical of the Indian government’s handling of farmer protests in 2020 and 2021.

However, India’s Minister of State for Information Technology said the accusations were “an outright lie.”

Dorsey, who quit as Twitter CEO in 2021, said on Monday that the Indian government had also threatened the company with raids on its staff if Twitter did not comply with requests to take down certain posts.

“India is a country that had many requests of us around the farmers’ protest, around particular journalists that were critical of the government,” Dorsey said.

“It manifested in ways such as: ‘We will shut Twitter down in India’—which is a very large market for us; ‘We will raid the homes of your employees’—which they did; ‘We will shut down your offices if you don’t follow suit.’

“And this is India, a democratic country,” Dorsey said in the interview with YouTube news show and podcast Breaking Points.

Dorsey did not cite nor provide any documentary evidence to support his claim.

India’s Minister of State for Skill Development, Entrepreneurship and Electronics, and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a top-ranking official in Modi’s government, responded on Twitter, calling Dorsey’s accusations “an outright lie.”

“No one went to jail nor was twitter ‘shut down,’” Chandrasekhar said. “Dorsey’s Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law. It behaved as if the laws of India did not apply to it.”

Twitter, which was bought by Elon Musk in a $44-billion deal last year, did not respond to NTD’s request for comment on either Dorsey’s allegations or the Indian government’s response.

“Twitter under Dorsey and his team were in repeated and continuous violations of India law,” Chandrasekhar said. “As a matter of fact, they were in non-compliance with law repeatedly from 2020 to 2022, and it was only June 2022 when they finally complied.”

The minister then referred to the farmer protests in India, which started after the Modi government passed three controversial farm laws. Thousands of farmers from across the country camped in and around the capital city of Delhi for nearly a year, eventually forcing the government to repeal the laws in November 2021.

“During the protests in January 2021, there was a lot of misinformation and even reports of genocide, which were definitely fake,” Chandrasekhar said, referring to Modi’s administration seeking to block the Twitter hashtag “#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide” along with dozens of accounts.

A local Twitter office was visited by Indian police at the time, but no one was arrested.

“To set the record straight, no one was raided or sent to jail. Our focus was only on ensuring the compliance of Indian laws,” Chandrasekhar said, further accusing the company of “arbitrary, blatantly partisan, and discriminatory conduct and misuse of its power on its platform during that period.”

Without sharing specifics, Dorsey also said in his interview that many Indian content take-down requests during the farmer protests involved particular journalists that criticized the government.

Dorsey’s comments again put the spotlight on the struggles faced by foreign technology giants operating under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which has repeatedly criticized Google, Facebook, and Twitter for not doing enough to tackle what it calls fake or “anti-India” content on their platforms.

In response to Dorsey’s YouTube interview, some of India’s opposition lawmakers accused the government of muzzling the voices of farmers during the 2020-2021 protest—one of Modi’s most serious challenges.

“It shows that everyone who dares to show the smallest bit of courage will be suppressed,” said Supriya Shrinate, a spokesperson for the main opposition Congress party.

Reuters contributed to this article.


ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.