New Delhi’s Elite Police Squad Raids Twitter’s Headquarters In India
Twitter’s Indian headquarters has been raided by New Delhi police, officials have confirmed.
Officers from the Delhi Police Special Cell – the force’s elite unit – conducted the raid on the New Delhi offices on Monday evening. A raid on an office in Gurgaon, in the neighbouring state of Haryana, took place simultaneously, however no employees were present at the time. No search is reported to have taken place at either location.
Delhi Police said that the raids were in connection with an investigation that was launched after Twitter labelled a tweet from a spokesperson for the ruling BJP Party as ‘manipulated media.’
In the tweet, spokesperson Sambit Patra claimed that India’s main opposition party, Indian National Congress, was using a ‘toolkit’ to undermine and derail the central government’s efforts to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Indian fact-checkers have since debunked the claim, leading Twitter to place a label on the tweet warning that it was potentially spreading disinformation. According to Twitter, the ‘manipulated media’ label may be placed on ‘Tweets that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated.’
In a statement reported by TechCrunch, Delhi Police confirmed the raids, saying:
Delhi Police is enquiring into a complaint in which clarification is sought from Twitter regarding the classification of a tweet by Shri Sambit Patra (BJP spokesman) as ‘manipulative’.
It appears that Twitter has some information which is not known to us on the basis of which they have classified it as such.
A journalist with the Times of India reported that the Special Cell left the Delhi office roughly an hour later, and confirmed that no search had taken place, with officers instead looking to serve a notice of investigation.
Twitter has come into conflict with India’s ruling BJP party a number of times in recent months over new regulations requiring social media companies to comply with requests to take down posts spreading ‘unlawful, misinformation or violent content’ within 24 hours.
In February, the social media giant faced criticism from the Indian government after restoring 500 previously suspended accounts linked to the Delhi farmer protests, while last month the government ordered Twitter and Facebook to take down posts which were critical of India’s handling of the pandemic.
In a tweet posted on Thursday, May 24, a spokesperson for Indian National Congress said the party had asked Twitter to suspend the accounts of several BJP figures they say ‘are indulging in spreading forged documents’ linked to the debunked toolkit allegations.
Twitter has not commented on the raids.
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