Home South Asia India Why is Twitter suspending pro-Kashmir accounts, deleting material critical of PM Modi?

Why is Twitter suspending pro-Kashmir accounts, deleting material critical of PM Modi?

Rights’ activists and journalists have questioned the credibility of Twitter after it turned down material related to Kashmir.

Kashmir

Human Rights’ activists and journalists have raised concerns over increasing surveillance on social media in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Rights’ groups are not happy over the removal of hundreds of thousands of tweets, many of them belonging to journalists critical of the Indian government’s policies in IoK.

This is, however, not for the first time that Twitter has taken down material questioning inhumane treatment of the Indian armed forced being given to the innocent Kashmiris. It has been happening for a quite long time now.

The micro-blogging site has been accused of suppressing freedom of expression in Kashmir after a study by the media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), revealed that nearly one million tweets have been removed since 2017.

More accounts were withheld in India in the second half of 2018 than in the rest of the world combined, according to Twitter’s transparency reports.

Read more: Twitter controlling narrative on Kashmir under India’s pressure: CPJ

Kashmir-based human rights activist Khurram Parvez said Twitter’s suspension of Kashmiri accounts was in sync with the temperament of the government in Kashmir, which frequently orders the shutdown of the internet. “Dissent is being criminalized and space is stifled. This way, Twitter is automatically siding with the oppression and not with the expression. This is the violation of right to freedom of speech,” he told Al Jazeera.

Social Media sites targeting pro-Kashmiri material

On April 1st, Facebook had announced that the 24 pages, 57 accounts and 7 groups removed on Facebook had more than 2.8 million followers. These pages and groups, alleged Facebook, belonged to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

“Today we removed 103 pages, Groups and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram as part of a network that originated in Pakistan,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity, had said in a statement released on April 1st.

Human Rights’ activists and journalists have raised concerns over increasing surveillance on social media in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

The ISPR not only denied backing or employing the people behind pages, accounts and groups which were removed in the exercise but has also approached Facebook to express reservations over claims that it was behind those accounts.

According to sources, ISPR has expressed its reservations over the claims made by Facebook that ISPR was managing these accounts or had employed people to run these accounts.

ISPR also raised questions over Facebook’s act of removing accounts highlighting the Kashmir issue and supporting Pakistan’s armed forces’ struggle. The military’s media wing also urged the social media giant to open its office in Pakistan for a “better understanding of the situation” on ground.

Read more: Info War over Kashmir: Approach PTA if your Twitter handle is taken down

Expert opinion

Since the Pulwama tragedy which claimed the lives of more than 40 Indian soldiers, Indian military establishment failed to adequately run its media campaign to win information war against Pakistan. Indian generals have publically confessed that Pakistan’s ISPR has done its job remarkably and defeated Indian narrative.

Analysts in Pakistan argue that the current crackdown by Facebook against Pakistan’s social media activists is primarily India driven and it demands serious and careful deliberation to be dealt with.

Facebook had announced that the 24 pages, 57 accounts and 7 groups removed on Facebook had more than 2.8 million followers.

Dr. Moeed Pirzada, Pakistan’s prominent analyst and political commentator, tweeted and asked “how come Facebook Cybersecurity only found Pakistani ISPR linked social media teams & Congress party social media teams doing violations of its rules & no BJP or Hindutva linked teams? Has Facebook’s management been captured from inside?

In his prime-time show Live with Moeed Pirzada on GNN, Dr. Moeed Pirzada argued that Facebook which is an American company will soon get transformed into an Indian dominated company because of many Indians working within Facebook administration.

Read more: Kashmir: War of narratives & Diplomacy through Twitter

Shahid Raza, a renowned social media expert, also argued that Indians are now dominatingly influencing and controlling Facebook and using it for their political interests. He also lamented that Pakistanis are still unable to comprehend the significance of these social media sites which are primarily created to use as new battlefields for cyberwarfare.

Dr. Pirzada suggested the government of Pakistan to get in touch with the Facebook administration to enhance cooperation and understand in order to safeguard the national interest of the country. Shahid Raza also suggested the same and urged the present government not to waste time and immediately make a policy to invite Facebook to build an office in Pakistan.

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