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Centre asks Twitter to remove ‘manipulated media’ tag from toolkit tweets


Hours after Twitter labelled tweets of BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra and others on the alleged toolkit prepared by Congress as ‘manipulated media’, the Central government has asked the social media platform to remove the tag as the matter is under investigation, news agencies PTI and ANI reported.

ANI while attributing to anonymous government sources said that the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY) has written to global team of Twitter registering objection regarding the matter. The government reportedly also stated that Twitter’s labelling of tweets on subjects which are pending investigation dilutes its credibility.

“Government has asked Twitter to remove the ‘Manipulated Media’ tags affixed prejudicially to certain tweets in recent days in the interests of fairness and equity,” ANI reported quoting anonymous sources.

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In the last few days, BJP has claimed that Congress has created a toolkit whose contents allegedly aim to “corner the Modi government and various BJP governments in the country” through social media and on-ground strategies. BJP leaders, including Patra, have posted numerous tweets to criticise Congress over the toolkit.

The tweet in question by Patra was attached with a screenshot from a document and it read, “Friends look at the #CongressToolKit in extending help to the needy during the Pandemic! More of a PR exercise with the help of “Friendly Journalists” & “Influencers” than a soulful endeavour. Read for yourselves the agenda of the Congress.”

Apart from Patra, Twitter also labelled  similar tweets on the alleged Congress toolkit by BJP politicians Priti Gandhi, Sunil Deodhar, Vinay Sahasrabudhhe, Kuljeet Singh Chahal and columnist Shefali Vaidya as ‘manipulated media’.

When clicked on, the ‘manipulated media’ tag on these tweetS, it redirects to Twitter’s page on “Synthetic and manipulated media policy”. A part of its policy reads, “We may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand their authenticity and to provide additional context.”

This development follows barely a day after Congress wrote to Twitter asking it to permanently suspend the accounts of BJP politicians including party chief JP Nadda and Union minister Smriti Irani for allegedly spreading “forged documents” to target Congress. The party also filed a police complaint on this and Chhattisgarh police has registered an FIR to probe the matter, a PTI report said.

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Fact-checking portal AltNews on Wednesday also investigated the alleged Congress toolkit and concluded that the letterhead of the AICC Research department that was used in this document was tampered with, raising questions about its authenticity.

Twitter has labelled tweets from India as ‘manipulated media’ earlier

This is not the first time that Twitter has labelled tweets from BJP functionaries as “manipulated media”. In December 2020, the social media platform flagged a tweet by BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya with the same label. Malviya had tweeted a video claiming that a law enforcement personnel hadn’t beaten a protesting farmer during the Farmer Protests.

His tweet was in response to an earlier tweet made by Indian National Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, where he had shared an image of security personnel attempting to hit a protesting farmer. Malviya had claimed that the security personnel was trying to intimidate the farmer, and not actually hit him.

Also read

Update May 21, 7.35 pm: Copy updated with reports that Central government has given a notice to Twitter to pull down the “manipulated media” tag. Other tweets with the tag have also been added to the copy

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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