Twitter nixes, then restores, verified status of junior IT minister’s account | India News


NEW DELHI: In the thick of regulatory and legal trouble in India, micro-blogging giant Twitter found itself caught in yet another controversy when the verified blue badge on minister of state for electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s account was removed briefly, before it got restored in a few hours.
The mix-up in the new minister’s verified status on Twitter (through the blue tick) happened after he changed his username on the platform from @rajeev_mp to @Rajeev_GoI. The change of username, as per Twitter policy, may lead to loss of verified badge. “As explained in the Twitter verification policy, if an account holder changes their username, Twitter may automatically remove the blue verified badge from an account… We are in touch with the minister’s office and worked swiftly to restore the verified blue badge,” the company said when contacted on the issue.
As the matter came to light during the day, online chatter started getting louder on whether Twitter’s action could be linked to the company’s strained relations with the government, which have escalated after the introduction of the new IT Rules. However, through a swift resolution of the issue, Twitter – which is now showing willingness to abide by the new regulations – appeared to make it clear that there was no link between its regulatory issues and the removal of the blue tick.
The latest incident, however, comes weeks after Twitter had briefly blocked the account of previous IT and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad over violation of an American copyright law in one of his tweets. The same law was also blamed for a similar (brief) action on the account of senior Congress leader and chairman of the standing committee on IT Shashi Tharoor whose account was also locked temporarily for a tweet that carried a copyrighted video of BoneyM song “Rasputin”.
Such actions are rather not rare with Twitter, which has often been accused of being high-handed and opaque after making sudden and controversial changes to the accounts of the powerful. In November 2020, Union home minister Amit Shah’s account was temporarily locked, and his display picture removed in response to a “report from the copyright holder”. The action was reversed almost immediately, and the company had called it an “inadvertent error”.
In June this year, Twitter had also removed the ‘blue tick’ verification of VP Venkaiah Naidu’s personal account, and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and some senior Sangh functionaries. The action was soon reversed after a hue and cry from Sangh and BJP leaders. Twitter said the decision was prompted due to no activity in the accounts.


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