Policy

Remove ‘Manipulated Media’ tag from certain tweets: MeitY tells Twitter

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on May 21, 2021

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad   -  AFP

Says platform’s action pending probe dilutes its credibility

The government has written to the global team of Twitter objecting to the use of “Manipulated Media” tag on certain tweets by political leaders with reference to a toolkit alleged to have been created to undermine, derail and demean the efforts of the government against the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has told the micro-blogging platform to remove the ‘Manipulated Media’ tags affixed “prejudicially” to certain tweets in recent days in the interests of “fairness and equity”.

The development follows Twitter labelling as “manipulated media” a tweet by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra on the alleged toolkit prepared by the Congress to target the Modi government. However, Twitter says it “May label Tweets that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated.”

Sources privy to the matter told BusinessLine that the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has written a “strong communication” to the global team of Twitter and has stated that a complaint has already been made by one of the parties concerned before local law enforcement agency questioning the veracity of the toolkit and the same is under investigation.

“Investigation will determine the veracity of the content not Twitter. The government has also told Twitter not to interfere in the investigation process and added that Twitter cannot pass judgment while the matter is under investigation,” a senior government official said.

‘Unilateral action’

MeitY has further stated in its communication that Twitter unilaterally chose to go ahead and designate certain tweets as “manipulated”, pending investigation by law enforcement agency. “This action not only dilutes the credibility of Twitter as a neutral and unbiased platform facilitating exchange of views by the users but also puts a question mark on the status of Twitter as an ‘Intermediary’,” it said in the letter.

MeitY has termed such unilateral action by Twitter as “an effort to influence the fair investigation process and a clear overreach, which is totally unwarranted”.

“While the local law enforcement agency is undertaking the investigation to determine the veracity of the ‘toolkit’, Twitter has unilaterally drawn a conclusion in this matter and arbitrarily tagged it as ‘Manipulated Media’. Such tagging by Twitter appears prejudged, prejudiced and a deliberate attempt to colour the investigation by local law enforcement agency,” it added.

No comment, says Twitter

When asked about its views on this matter, a global spokesperson for Twitter said, “We’ve no comment on this.”

Published on May 21, 2021

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