Govt threatened to shut down Twitter over pro-farmer protest handles, says ex-CEO Jack Dorsey; ‘outright lie’ says Centre

He further claimed the Indian government threatened to shut down Twitter in India and raid the homes of employees.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 13, 2023 | 2:02 PMUpdatedJun 13, 2023 | 2:08 PM


In an interview to a YouTube channel, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has made the grave charge that the Indian government threatened to shut down the social media platform if it did not take down handles backing the over-a-year-long farmers protests in 2020-21.

The Indian government quick to deny Dorsey’s claim, with Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, on Tuesday, 13 June, terming the comment an “outright lie”.

In his interview, asked about how it felt when some of the most powerful people in the world “came to you demanding things”, Dorsey took the example of India.

“India is a country that had many requests of us around the farmers’ protest, around particular journalists who were critical of the government,” Dorsey said, noting how the country was a big market for micro-blogging platform.

He said that the company was told “we would raid the home of your employees, which they did… we will shut down your offices if your don’t follow suit”, adding, “and this India, a democratic country”.

The comment by the former Twitter chief to the YouTube channel “Breaking Points”, had Opposition parties up in arms and critics of the government saying they were neither surprised now shocked by Dorsey’s revelation.


Union government reacts

The statement evoked a sharp rebuttal from Union Minister of State for IT Chandrasekhar, who termed it an “outright lie”.

Rubbishing Dorsey’s claims, the minister tweeted that the former CEO’s Twitter regime “had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law”.

“No one went to jail, nor was Twitter ‘shutdown’,” Chandrasekhar said.

“@twitter under Dorsey and his team were in repeated and continuous violations of India law. They were in non-compliance with the law repeatedly from 2020 to 2022, and it was only June 2022 when they finally complied.”

“India as a sovereign nation has the right to ensure that its laws are followed by all companies operating in India,” the minister added.

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‘Misinformation during 2021 protests’

During the protests in January 2021, there was a lot of misinformation and even reports of genocide which were fake, the minister said, adding that the government was obligated to remove misinformation from the platform as it had the potential to further inflame the situation based on fake news.

“Such was the level of partisan behaviour on Twitter under Jack regime, that they had a problem removing misinformation from the platform in India, when they did it themselves when similar events took place in the USA,” Chandrasekhar said.

“There is ample evidence now in the public domain about Jack’s Twitter’s arbitrary, blatantly partisan and discriminatory conduct and misuse of its power on its platform during that period,” he further said.

“Twitter under Dorsey was not just violating Indian law, but was partisan in how it was using ‘deamplify’ and de-platforming of some arbitrarily in violation of Art 14, 19 of our constitution and also assisting in weaponising of misinformation,” he said.

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Opposition reacts

The Congress demanded answers from the Narendra Modi government after ex-Twitter CEO Dorsey claimed the platform was threatened with a shutdown unless it complied with orders to restrict accounts critical of the government during the farmers’ protest.

In a tweet, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala said: “The Modi Government forced Twitter to shut down accounts of Farmers and Farmer’s movement, shut down accounts of journalists critical of Government, or Twitter and its employees would be raided”.

“This is what Twitter Co Founder and Ex CEO Jack Dorsey admits in a TV interview. Will Modi Government answer,” he asked.

He also shared clips from a TV interview in which Dorsey levelled the allegations.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh too took to Twitter, saying, “During the farmers agitation the cowardly BJP government threatened to shut down Twitter & raid the homes of their employees.”

NCP working president Supriya Sule demanded an impartial investigation on the matter and sought action against the people responsibe, if Twitter was really threatened.

(With inputs from PTI)