New Delhi: In the wake
of widespread discontent on the social media over its decision to
block certain Twitter accounts, including that of journalists, the
government Friday clarified that it was taking action only against
sites that "can cause damage".
Twitter, after not initially responding to government requests,
has agreed to block six sites impersonating the Prime Minister's
Following fake messages about the Assam violence, Home Minister
Sushilkumar Shinde Friday said that social media accounts which
have posted objectionable and inflammatory content are being
blocked but there was no censorship.
"We are only taking strict action against those accounts or people
which are causing damage or spreading rumours. We are not taking
action against other accounts, be it on Facebook, Twitter or even
SMSs. I assure you about this," Shinde said.
"There is no censorship at all. We decided on taking action
because there were pictures of Myammar etc online, which were
disturbing the atmosphere here in India. I am again reassuring
you," Shinde added.
The government's clarification came in the wake of it asking
Twitter to block some imposter accounts of the PMO and other
social media sites.
Twitter has agreed to block all fake accounts using the name of
The PMO said in a statement that it had "requested Twitter to take
appropriate action against 6 persons impersonating the Prime
When the social networking site did not reply
for a long time, the government asked the Cyber Security Cell to
"Twitter has now conveyed to us that action has
been taken and it has "removed the reported profile from
circulation due to violation of 'our Terms of Service regarding
impersonation'," a statment said.
The ministry of communications and IT said that Facebook and
Google were cooperating with the government and had decided to
close down the "objectionable sites" listed by the government.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said that Twitter, which has its
server outside India, has said it is ready for talks. "So, we have
provided 28 URL numbers under which objectionable material is
being shown. Now the government does not know that who is behind
these URL numbers, only Twitter and other sites are aware about
"Actually we don't have the identities; we have no way to find out
the identities. So, the accusations that we are aggressively
targeting someone's account or websites are incorrect," the
Meanwhile, some Twitter users, including Gujarat Chief Minister
Narendra Modi, decided to blackout their Display Picture in a show
of protest against the government crackdown on imposter sites of
Modi, an avid tweeter, posted: "As a common man, I join the
protest against crackdown on freedom of speech! Have changed my
DP. 'Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan.'#GOIBlocks
In a related development, a controversy broke out in the twitter
world after reports that the account of Milind Deora, the minister
of state for communications and IT, was blocked by mistake instead
of the account of an imposter.
The minister's account is @milinddeora, while that of the imposter
News channel CNN-IBN News@ibnlive posted the news on twitter. "Milind
Deora says his Twitter account has gone for verification, but
normally verification doesn't lead to a temporary suspension."
However, the incident led to many who are upset at the crackdown
on social media taking pot shots at the government.
PM Ban Mohan Singh@India_Review tweeted: "They told Twitter to
block impostor account @milindeora and screwed up in the spelling
and made it @milinddeora"
In reply Akanksha Patankar@Ground_Reality posted: "Lol! Mother of
all goof-ups! "
Swarup@SwarupPhD, wrote: "Haa haa, hunter becomes hunted. #CorruptCongress
minister Milind Deora's Twitter account suspended."
The government had asked internet service providers (ISPs) to
block/disable 300 web pages such as news articles, blogposts and
Twitter accounts, including that of two journalists, from Aug 18
In what is being seen as "internet censorship" by many, the
directive addressed to all internet licensees said: "You are
accordingly directed to immediately block the access to above URLS
only and not the main websites like www.facebook.com,