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Twitter unblocks Indian politicians’ accounts after suspending them for violating disclosure law

The accounts were suspended over a tweet about the rape and murder of a child

Twitter has reinstated several Indian politicians’ accounts, after suspending them for a tweet about a child murder.
Illustration by Alex Castro

Twitter has reinstated the accounts of several politicians in India’s opposition party, which were suspended after party leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted a photo of himself with the parents of a girl who was allegedly raped and murdered in New Delhi, Reuters reported. Gandhi had tweeted his support of the girl’s family, saying that they deserved justice and others had shared his tweet.

However, Indian law prohibits the disclosure of the identities of children and sexual assault victims. According to a notice posted on the Lumen database, India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights requested Twitter take action. A Twitter spokesperson said in an email to The Verge that Gandhi submitted a copy of an authorization letter from the people in the image to the company’s India Grievance Channel, and his account was reinstated. But the tweet in question, which has been shared more than 15,000 times, will remain withheld in India even though it is visible globally.

Twitter appointed its grievance officer earlier this month, to comply with new internet rules in India governing social media platforms. It’s been a bumpy few months between Twitter and India’s government; in June, the government warned the company it could face “unintended consequences” if it failed to follow the rules, and in July, India informed Twitter that it had lost its legal immunity for its users’ posts because of its non-compliance. On August 10th, the government determined that Twitter was in compliance with the rules.

Twitter’s moderation policies have also been criticized by Indian officials; police raided Twitter’s offices in Delhi and Guragon in May after the platform labeled a tweet from a government official as “manipulated media.” In other instances, however, Twitter has taken action at the government’s request: It suspended more than 500 accounts and reduced the visibility of some hashtags in February, that had with links to widespread farmers’ protest, and has also censored tweets that criticized India’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.