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Social networks targeted by Indian government in crackdown on ethnic violence

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The Indian government has blocked access to 245 web pages and issued takedown requests to Google, Facebook, and Twitter in an attempt to suppress inflammatory material blamed for stirring up ethnic violence.

Indian flag (rednivaram/Flickr)
Indian flag (rednivaram/Flickr)

The Indian government has pressed social networks including Facebook and Twitter to remove inflammatory content blamed for stirring up ethnic panic among migrant workers. According to a report from Reuters, the government has succeeded in blocking access to 245 web pages containing "doctored videos and images," and has received positive responses to takedown requests submitted to Google and Facebook. But telecommunications secretary R. Chandreshekhar has criticized Twitter, describing the behavior of the microblogging service — known for its robust policies on free speech — as "extremely poor."

Thousands of workers from India's northeast have fled major cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi in recent days after messages threatening violence were posted online — the threats are seen as retaliation for attacks on Bangladeshi Muslim settlers in the state of Assam. Last week, the government imposed a 15-day ban on mass SMS messaging in a desperate attempt to calm the situation.