Twitter suspending Amul’s account for dig at China invites allegations of politically coloured decisions of censorship.
When Twitter fact-checked US president Donald Trump’s tweets, many had said that it was the right thing to do. Twitter also announced that it would be doing more of this as election season approaches in the US. But in its overzealousness, on Thursday, it blocked Amul’s account for tweeting an ad showing the Amul girl fighting a dragon with the caption ‘Exit the dragon’, a not-so-subtle dig at China, whose aggression at the border with India has the global community condemning it.
While Amul has been famous for creating irreverent ads that have a current-affairs flavour to the humour in them, this was the first instance of Twitter banning the account for such a post. Twitter may have restored the account the next day, citing security reasons for blocking the account, but it did show how coloured its enforcement of rules can get.
While Twitter’s fact-checking service was active last year also, it used the service rather sparingly. The racist language used by the US president against four Democrat Congresswomen did not seem to outrage Twitter’s policies. This selective targeting has been a feature across social media communication.
While the Twitter incident brings to light how dangerous it is for companies to enforce control over social media platforms, it also raises the issue of whether a Twitter or a Facebook should operate as platforms or publishers. A publisher would be well within its rights to push forth an ideology; a platform has to be much more careful in policing content. While there are no easy answers, banning accounts cannot be a solution, not unless these violate globally-accepted rules.