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India censors social media posts as internet freedom continues to decline

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India directed Twitter to locally censor accounts and dozens of posts, including some referencing a report that mentioned the country’s declining internet freedoms, the social media platform confirmed to AFP Tuesday.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has been accused of stifling criticism, with rights groups sounding the alarm over growing curbs on freedom of speech in the world’s largest democracy.

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Last year the government ordered Twitter to take down tweets by the US think-tank Freedom House that had discussed the detention of Indian citizens for questioning government policy on social media, and the use of internet shutdowns to stifle dissent.

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The tweets were no longer available in India as of this week, along with several accounts representing Pakistan’s government that had been flagged by India.

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Twitter said in a statement to AFP that the removals were “limited to the specific jurisdiction/country where the content is determined to be illegal.”

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Pakistan’s foreign office tweeted on Monday night that India’s actions were “extremely alarming” and contrary to democratic norms protecting freedom of expression.

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India’s government has repeatedly asked Twitter to withhold accounts and posts in recent years.

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Last year it asked the platform to block accounts that had commented in support of anti-government protesters.

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Police also investigated more than 100 social media account owners who had tweeted about mob attacks on Muslims in India’s northeast last October, including prominent Indian journalists and a US-based law professor.

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