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India, Twitter Dispute Intensifies Over Alleged 'Manipulated Media'

A man reads tweets on his mobile in New Delhi, India, Feb. 4, 2021.
A man reads tweets on his mobile in New Delhi, India, Feb. 4, 2021.

Indian police officials say they visited Twitter's Delhi and Gurgaon offices to serve notice to the company's managing director concerning an investigation into the company tagging some government official's tweets as "manipulated media."

Several leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shared parts of a document they said was created by their main political opposition, Congress, which allegedly showed how it planned to hinder the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some have been critical of the government's handling of the pandemic. The BJP has blamed state governments for the slow response and ignoring warnings by Modi of a second wave.

Congress said the documents were fake and complained to Twitter, which tagged the posts as manipulated.

Twitter tags posts as "manipulated media" "that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated."

Twitter has not commented on this case.

Modi's administration has reportedly ordered Twitter to take down posts critical of its handling of the coronavirus in recent months. It has also complained when those orders were not followed.

India has been hit hard by a second wave of the pandemic in recent months. The country has reported nearly 27 million cases and over 300,000 deaths.

The latest dispute between the Indian government and U.S. social media giants Twitter and Facebook come as a deadline nears for the platforms to comply with new government takedown requests.

Officials have warned both companies that failure to comply with the new rules "could lead to loss of status and protections as intermediaries."

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