According to co-founder Jack Dorsey, Twitter was threatened with closure in India, Nigeria, and Turkey unless it complied with requests to restrict accounts. India wanted to limit the use of the social media network by journalists and demonstrators.
Elon Musk, a multibillionaire, bought Twitter in 2022 after Dorsey resigned as its CEO in 2021.
Jack Dorsey said in an interview, “India, for example, India is a country that had many requests of us around the farmers protest, around particular journalists that were critical of the government.”
In late 2021, Indian farmers ended a year of demonstrations by securing government changes to some farm legislation. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had to deal with some of the largest protests ever.
Jack 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.”
Jack Dorsey also referenced similar pressure from the governments of Nigeria and Turkey, which had previously imposed restrictions on the platform in those countries at various points over the years before easing such restrictions.
He said, “Turkey is very similar (to India), like we had so many requests from Turkey. We fought Turkey in their courts and often won, but they threatened to shut us down constantly.”
Dorsey also said that because of the political climate in Nigeria, Twitter was unable to even station personnel there for fear of reprisals from the local authorities. Nigeria blocked Twitter in 2021 after it took down a message from the country’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, in which he threatened to punish separatists in the region. Early in 2022, the restriction was lifted when Twitter made several agreements with the authorities, including opening a local office.
Advocacy groups have expressed concerns regarding the human rights situations in India, Turkey, and Nigeria.
Indian Government Denies The Allegations
The Centre has firmly refuted Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s claims that the Indian government put a lot of “pressure” on the microblogging platform to “block” certain accounts during the farmers’ protest, calling them an “outright lie.”
This is an outright lie by @jack – perhaps an attempt to brush out that very dubious period of twitters history
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) June 13, 2023
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Union Minister of State for Electronics & Technology, called the accusation an “outright lie,” noting that “neither Twitter was shut down nor anyone went to jail.” The Union Minister continued by saying that the Dorsey administration at Twitter had trouble respecting the supremacy of Indian law.