In the backdrop of heightened tensions between the government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Twitter, the microblogging site on Saturday removed the blue tick, which lets people know that an account on the social media platform is authentic, from the personal handle of vice president M Venkaiah Naidu. However, the Vice President’s handle was not alone to be de-verified. In fact, Twitter has even removed the blue tick from RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat’s official handle. Mohan Bhagwat has 20.76 lakh followers on Twitter.
This removal of the verified badge from Mohan Bhagwat’s handle comes after the denotification of several other RSS leaders like Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi, Suresh Soni, Arun Kumar. Interestingly, none of these RSS leaders had tweeted ever using their social media handles. What gives Twitter the arbitrary right nonetheless to de-verify the handles of top RSS officials is not known.
It could be very possible that Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s blue tick was removed to somehow steal the limelight away from the fact that Twitter had decided to go forward with the de-verification of top RSS leaders and right-wing thinkers in India. However, the microblogging platform has been caught in the act and is about to get immediately what has been coming to it for quite some time now.
Meanwhile, according to sources quoted by NDTV, Twitter’s removal of the verified badge from the VP’s personal account was an outrageous act against the “Number 2” constitutional head of the country. They pointed out that the accounts of former Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj had stayed verified long after their death in 2019. “The Vice President is above politics. It is a constitutional post. Can Twitter do the same with American leaders in constitutional posts,” IT ministry sources probed.
It was only after largescale outrage that the microblogging platform restored the Vice President’s blue tick. It must be remembered that Twitter has been resisting the new social media guidelines and not fully complying with them. It has also been showing its utter disregard for Indian laws. Earlier, after being put into a corner, Twitter began crying foul over the growing undemocratization of India.
Twitter’s rant against the Modi government came after two Delhi Police teams paid its Delhi and Gurugram offices a surprise visit. Meanwhile, the government has been warning Twitter how non-compliance with its new guidelines could result in Twitter executives being jailed and fined heavy penalties, apart from the platform as a whole being barred in India.
“Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve,” Twitter had said while indulging in moral grandstanding. The Indian government pushed back hard against the misleading claims of the tech giant. Ministry of Electronics and IT asked Twitter that if Twitter was so committed, why it had not placed a similar mechanism in the first place. The Indian government pointed out the lack of accountability on the part of Twitter and how Indians are asked to escalate everything to the Twitter headquarters in the USA.
The Modi government has taken a tough stance against the social media company and has reiterated that the company must comply with the new social media guidelines as it is just a social media company and is in no position to dictate what should India’s legal policy framework be.
Twitter’s move to de-verify a sitting Indian vice president’s handle, and rectify their criminal behaviour only after widespread outrage bears testimony to the fact that the microblogging site is asking for the stick.