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India: Govt Blocks 36,838 Social Media Posts Between 2018 & 2023

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The Indian government issued orders to remove 36,838 social media posts between 2018 and October 2023. The government informed parliament on last Friday, December 8, that 13,660 posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, were removed, accounting for the majority of the blocked URLs.

In response to queries posed by Communist Party Of India (Marxist) Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas, the government released the information. The majority of posts/URLs (9,849) were removed in 2020, the year the COVID-19 pandemic started.

The Rajya Sabha MP for the state of Kerala requested information from the government regarding the quantity and specifics of directives/orders issued in the last five years under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and its implementing regulations, guiding intermediaries and digital media to remove, alter, or disable any communication link, piece of content, or data.

In response, the government said, “The policies of the government are aimed at ensuring that the internet in India is open, safe, trusted, and accountable to all users. Accordingly, the government issues lawful directions for blocking access to information by the public under Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 which provides power to the government to issue such directions if it is necessary or expedient to do so in the interest of sovereignty and integrity, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for inciting cognisable offence relating to above.”

This is the breakdown of blocked posts/URLs by year and platform:

YEAR FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM X-CORP YOUTUBE OTHERS TOTAL
2018 1555 379 224 161 480 2799
2019 2049 75 1041 409 61 3635
2020 1717 1273 2731 2175 1953 9849
2021 1082 464 2851 1141 580 6118
2022 1750 359 3423 939 464 6935
2023 2044 473 3390 934 661 7502
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