BJP’s Vinay Sahasrabuddhe claims the conduct of the social media giant has exposed its ‘selective’ approach
NEW DELHI: BJP’s confrontation with Twitter looks set to escalate with party leaders accusing the micro-blogging platform of bias against their party and asking the government to take action against it.
Taking exception to Twitter labelling his tweets as well as those posted by his colleagues as “manipulated media”, senior BJP functionary Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said the conduct of the social media giant was biased and has exposed its “selective” approach, and asked the government to look into the issue of whether it is a social media platform or media.
“The action taken by the Twitter against us raises questions about the very character of the social media since they had earlier claimed that they are just a platform on which people can freely express their views. If Twitter or, for that matter, Facebook, are just platforms they claim to be then how can they decide the nature of a content?” asked the Rajya Sabha MP, adding that Twitter’s action against BJP shows they consider themselves to be media. “If so, they should be brought under the purview of the editorial policy norms effective on the FDI in the media sector,” he said.
Sahasrabuddhe’s attack on Twitter came amid indications that the government is still waiting for a formal reply from Twitter for tagging BJP’s tweets accusing Congress of engineering a campaign against the Modi government when the matter was being investigated by police. With Twitter, unfazed by the IT ministry seeking an explanation from them, going ahead to tag more BJP tweets as “manipulated media”, the saffron ranks were hoping for action against Twitter.
Sahasrabuddhe said the government should look into the discrepancy between their claim to be a platform and their actual conduct as a media outlet with discretion to determine and dictate the nature of the content.
“We had raised the issue even in the parliamentary panels that it was high time the government reviews the functioning of the social media platforms. I personally think the issue has become more relevant because of their persistent bias and should be looked into,” he said.
On Friday, Twitter extended its “manipulated media” label to tweets by five other BJP members, hours after it flagged BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra’s post about an alleged Congress toolkit under the same category.
Tweets posted by verified accounts of Sahasrabuddhe, BJP (Mahila Morcha) national social media in-charge Priti Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh co-incharge Sunil Deodhar, BJP media panelist Charu Pragya and Delhi BJP general secretary Kuljeet Singh Chahal were tagged as manipulated.
Chahal said the Twitter action is a direct challenge to the law of the land as they have acted as a judge and given a judgement. “My question is who will decide what is right and what is wrong? Government of India or Twitter?” he questioned and asserted that none can supersede authority of the Indian judicial system.
On Friday the IT ministry had conveyed its objections to Twitter action, saying, “Such content moderation by Twitter puts a question mark on its status as an ‘intermediary’.” Congress had lodged complaints against several BJP leaders for circulating a four-page “toolkit”. BJP had claimed that the opposition party named the coronavirus variant found in India as the “Modi variant” and attempted to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi.