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6 Jan 2021

Twitter suspended account of Indian writer & activist Salil Tripathi, raising concerns over freedom of expression & transparency

Twitter was accused of censoring the prominent Indian journalist Salil Tripathi by suspending his account, after he tweeted on subjects including the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque and his work on India’s shrinking democratic space. A right-wing Hindu nationalist group called Deshi Army, which has 26,000 followers on Twitter, claimed victory after the suspension. The suspension generated an outcry among writers and rights advocates.

A statement from Twitter said Tripathi’s account “has been temporarily suspended for publishing a list that violates our abusive behaviour policy”, without clarity on how the list violated Twitter’s policies. Tripathi’s account has subsequently been restored.

Following the suspension, PEN International -- where Tripathi is Chair of the International’s Writers in Prison Committee -- called on Twitter to introduce "more transparent policies that respect freedom of expression and fairer arbitration procedures. Twitter should also conduct a thorough revaluation of its suspension procedures in light of the apparent misuse of its reporting feature by actors seeking to silence peaceful expression."

We invited Twitter to respond; it declined to comment further.

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