Stand validated, says Congress as Twitter labels COVID toolkit tweets 'manipulative media'; Centre demands removal of tag

The government, while asking Twitter to remove the tag, made it clear that the social media platform cannot pass judgment when the issue is under investigation.

Press Trust of India May 21, 2021 23:11:18 IST
Stand validated, says Congress as Twitter labels COVID toolkit tweets 'manipulative media'; Centre demands removal of tag

File image of Sambit Patra. PTI

New Delhi: The Congress Friday said its stand on the 'COVID toolkit' issue stands validated after Twitter used the 'manipulated media' tag for BJP leaders Sambit Patra's tweets on the alleged Opposition party document on how to target the Centre over its COVID-19 handling.

The Congress reaction came even as the government asked Twitter to remove the "manipulated media" label, saying the matter is pending before the law-enforcement agency.

Congress leader KC Venugopal said, "The Congress stand has been validated by Twitter's action itself. What the Congress has been telling for the last so many days and years about the BJP's false propaganda and spreading lies is actually validated by this single incident."

"We will take note of it and will take further action," he said, when asked about the Congress' follow-up action.

Stand validated says Congress as Twitter labels COVID toolkit tweets manipulative media Centre demands removal of tag

Party spokesperson Pawan Khera said the world should see how India's ruling party is "trying to create manipulative media during a pandemic without fulfilling its own duty".

"The people should see this," he said, adding, "The Congress has pledged that it will not ignore such things, as they (the BJP) have been doing so in the past too. We will reply emphatically."

He also said that the Congress would continue to pursue action on a police complaint against BJP chief JP Nadda, Union minister Smriti Irani and Patra, among others, for "peddling a false narrative" through social media.

"The law will take its own course. We will continue with the legal remedies," Khera said, when asked about the future of Congress' police complaint.

The Congress leader said it will also pursue with Twitter for further stricter action against the BJP leaders.

The Congress had on Thursday written to Twitter asking it to permanently suspend the accounts Nadda, Irani, Patra and other BJP leaders for allegedly "spreading misinformation and unrest in the society".

Their communication to the social media site had come two days after they filed a police complaint against the BJP leaders after they tweeted a so-called 'toolkit', attributing it to the Congress, on how to target the Modi government over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congress has said the document was "forged".

While the Congress was seeking permanent suspension of the Twitter handles of the four BJP leaders, the micr0-blogging site labelled as "manipulated media" Patra's tweet about the alleged toolkit.

The government, while asking Twitter to remove the tag, made it clear that the social media platform cannot pass judgment when the issue is under investigation.

According to sources, the Ministry of Electronics and IT has written a strong communication to the global team of Twitter registering its objection to the 'manipulated media' tag on tweets made by some political leaders with reference to the toolkit allegedly created to undermine, derail and demean the efforts of the government against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its communication to Twitter, the ministry has stated that a complaint has already been made by one of the concerned parties before the local law enforcement agency questioning the veracity of the toolkit and the same is under investigation.

While the local law enforcement agency is undertaking the investigation, Twitter has unilaterally drawn a conclusion in this matter and arbitrarily tagged it as 'manipulated media', government sources said.

Such tagging by Twitter appears pre-judged, prejudiced and a deliberate attempt to colour the investigation by local law enforcement agency, the sources pointed out.

The ministry has termed such unilateral action by Twitter as an effort to influence the fair investigation process and a clear overreach, which is totally unwarranted.

The ministry has further stated in its communication that Twitter unilaterally chose to go ahead and designate certain tweets as 'manipulated', pending investigation by the law enforcement agency.

Such action not only dilutes the credibility of Twitter as a neutral and unbiased platform facilitating exchange of views by the users but also puts a question mark on Twitter's status as an "intermediary", they said.

Twitter says it "may label Tweets that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated."

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