Twitter Blocks India’s IT Minister As Row Rages

Ravi Shankar Prasad
A file photo combination of India’s IT minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Twitter’s logo.

 

India’s IT minister on Friday accused Twitter of briefly blocking his account because of criticisms he made of the US firm in a standoff over new social media rules.

Ravi Shankar Prasad said that in a “gross violation” of Indian regulations, he was without warning informed that his account was locked because of an infringement of US copyright law.

The account remained out of action for almost an hour, he said.

“It is apparent that my statements calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of my interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact, have clearly ruffled its feathers,” Prasad tweeted after his account was restored.

“Twitter’s actions indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda, with the threat that if you do not tow the line they draw, they will arbitrarily remove you from their platform,” he added.

Twitter was not immediately available for comment.

The US firm has been locked for several months in a row with New Delhi over new rules for social media companies operating in India.

The regulations require firms to remove and identify the “first originator” of posts deemed to undermine India’s sovereignty, state security or public order.

Social media companies and privacy activists fear the vagueness of the rules means they could be forced to identify the authors of posts critical of the government.

Prasad on Friday said Twitter had not been adhering to the new rules because “it would be unable to arbitrarily deny access to an individual’s account which does not suit their agenda”.

Twitter insisted last week that it was making every effort to comply with the guidelines.

WhatsApp is challenging the rules in court, fearing that it will have to break its system of encryption that prevents anyone other than the sender and receiver from reading messages.

READ ALSO: India Accuses Twitter Of Ignoring New Rules As Row Festers

 

Twitter is also having issues with the Nigerian government.

 

Last week, Twitter’s top executive in India was summoned by police after a video of a Muslim man being assaulted went viral on the platform. Police accused Twitter of stoking sectarian tensions.

In May police visited Twitter’s offices to serve a notice to the US company over its failure to remove a “manipulated media” label that it had placed on a tweet by the ruling party’s spokesman.

Twitter responded by accusing the authorities of “intimidation tactics”.

The government says it recognises and respects the right to privacy and that the new rules are only to prevent “abuse and misuse of social media”.

AFP

Twitter Introduces Subscription Service With ‘Undo’ Tweet Feature

In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia.  Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Twitter on Thursday introduced its first-ever subscription service, which has been dubbed “Blue” and offers added features for prolific tweeters, as it seeks to diversity its revenue streams beyond advertising.

The feature — initially only available in Australia and Canada — could enable the social network to rely less on ads or promoted posts that disrupt the real-time flow of tweets that are a huge part of the global, one-to-many messaging platform’s appeal.

“We’ve heard from the people that use Twitter a lot, and we mean a lot, that we don’t always build power features that meet their needs,” product management director Sara Beykpour and product manager Smita Mittal Gupta said in a blog post.

“Well, that’s about to change.”

READ ALSO: WhatsApp Has Updated Its Privacy Policy. Here’s What You Need To Know.

Monthly subscriptions to Twitter Blue cost $3.49 in Canada and $4.49 in Australia in local currencies, and are available to any user, according to the blog.

Perks for Blue subscribers will include a brief window of time during which they can “undo” or tweak a tweet — though the feature is not an editing option long sought by Twitter users wishing they could correct or change tweets, since it lets people set a timer of no more than 30 seconds during which they can alter or cancel a post.

Additional features include tools making it easier to organize or read posts, along with access to dedicated customer support for trouble-shooting.

Twitter planned to enhance Blue based on feedback during the initial phase.

“And for those wondering, no, a free Twitter is not going away, and never will,” Beykpour and Gupta said.

“This subscription offering is simply meant to add enhanced and complementary features to the already existing Twitter experience for those who want it.”

AFP

Twitter’s Decision To Locate HQ In Ghana Is A ‘No Issue,’ Says Ruling APC 

A photo combination of the Twitter logo and the APC flag.

 

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) says Twitter’s decision to set up its African base in Ghana is a purely business move by the social media giant, countering critics who claimed the government’s inability to provide a conducive business environment led to the development. 

“Flowing from a statement by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), our response to Twitter’s decision to cite its African operations in Ghana is simple,” it said on Thursday after the opposition party accused the APC of having a poor understanding of governance following Twitter’s decision.

“The decision or rationale of private concerns, particularly businesses on where to cite their operations is their exclusive preserve. It is a no issue!”

While slamming the PDP for celebrating “a missed business prospects,” the APC in a statement issued by its National Secretary of its Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, said the PDP does not mean well for the country.

READ ALSO: DR Congo Starts Countdown To End Of Ebola Outbreak

“It is exhausting and depressing highlighting PDP’s ignominious past. The APC will rather consolidate and focus on how Nigeria is finally getting it right under President Muhammadu Buhari,” the party formed in 2014 added in a release it captioned ‘Nigeria as Africa’s Biggest Economy, Remains A Top Investment Destination.’

The social media company while announcing the move on Monday, cited Ghana’s support of free speech, online freedom and open internet for its decision despite the massive number of users of the platform in Nigeria  (pegged at 39.6 million, according to NOI poll, a number which is more than Ghana’s population).

But the APC defended the government, reeling out major achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in ensuring the country becomes the toast of investors.

READ ALSO: Twitter To Set Up Its African Base In Ghana

“Nigeria is on the right trajectory and the PDP cannot wish away these solid achievements,” the APC explained.

As the country battles fake news, disinformation and hate speech, the APC is calling on Twitter and other social media firms to be frontline fighters, referencing the roles of new media platforms in the 2020 US presidential poll.

“We expect no less in Nigeria from social media operators,” the party said.

Twitter To Set Up Its African Base In Ghana

In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Social networking site, Twitter, on Monday said it will set up its first African base in Ghana, citing the country’s free speech and online freedom. 

The microblogging platform explained in a blog spot that it is building a team of vibrant professionals in the West African nation.

“Today, in line with our growth strategy, we’re excited to announce that we are now actively building a team in Ghana,” the social media giant said.

“To truly serve the public conversation, we must be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the African continent.”

READ ALSO: DR Congo Starts Countdown To End Of Ebola Outbreak

It described Ghana “as a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate. Furthermore, Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area aligns with our overarching goal to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa.”

The company also reiterated its commitment to also invest in talents whenever it enter new markets.

“Whenever we enter new markets, we work hard to ensure that we are not just investing in the talent that we hire, but also investing in local communities and the social fabric that supports them,”  the company added.

‘Exciting Times’

The Ghanaian president, Nana Akufo-Addo also described the development as excellent news, thanking Twitter for its confidence in the country.

“As I indicated to @Jack in our virtual meeting of 7th April 2021, this is the start of a beautiful partnership between Twitter and Ghana, which is critical for the dev’t of Ghana’s hugely important tech sector,” the Ghana leader tweeted on his official handle. “These are exciting times to be in, and to do business in Ghana.”