MeitY objects to Twitter tagging tweet content as 'manipulated media'

Topics Twitter | IT ministry | Social Media

In a letter to Twitter, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology objected to the microblogging service using the tag "manipulated media" on some tweets by Indian political leaders.

Twitter tags content in a tweet as "manipulated media" if it has "reason to believe that media shared in a Tweet have been significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated".

According to sources, MeitY wrote to the global team of Twitter making the complaint. The tweets that were tagged as "manipulated media" had reference to a toolkit allegedly created by the Indian National Congress party.

Many of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's leaders have been tweeting about the toolkit, calling it a tool to demean and undermine the efforts of the government towards solving the Covid-19 pandemic. Amongst these was BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, and one of his tweets related to the alleged toolkit was labeled "manipulated media".

In its communication to Twitter, the Ministry has said that a complaint has already been made by one of the concerned parties before a local law enforcement agency questioning the veracity of the toolkit and is under investigation.

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. The Ministry has termed such unilateral action by Twitter as an effort to influence the fair investigation process and a clear overreach," the source said.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Ministry is also learnt to have told Twitter that the platform's 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”".

The Government has asked Twitter to remove the 'Manipulated Media' tag.

The background

Patra’s tweet had posted a document and said, “Friends look at the #CongressToolKit in extending help to the needy during the Pandemic! More of a PR exercise with the help of Friendly Journalists & Influencers than a soulful endeavour.Read for yourselves the agenda of the Congress”.

The Congress has denied it made the toolkit and has filed police complaints against BJP leaders and written to Twitter to suspend Twitter accounts of BJP leaders who are indulging in spreading forged documents attributing to Congress.

Fact checking organisation AltNews wrote on Wednesday that the claims of the toolkit being a Congress document were false. 

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