Centre asks Twitter to remove ‘manipulated’ tag from ‘toolkit’

This comes a day after the Congress wrote to Twitter asking it to permanently suspend the accounts of BJP leaders including party chief JP Nadda and Union minister Smriti Irani for allegedly "spreading misinformation and unrest in the society".

The Narendra Modi-led central government has asked social networking site Twitter to remove ‘manipulated’ tags from tweets related to a toolkit that was allegedly made by the opposition Congress to derail the Centre’s ‘efforts in battling COVID-19’.

The official complaint was spurred after Twitter marked Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet as ‘manipulated media. Sambit Patra’s tweet on May 18, shared by several BJP leaders, had screenshots of what he called a “Congress toolkit” aimed at “smearing” Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre’s handling of the COVID-19 situation in India.

This comes a day after the Congress wrote to Twitter asking it to permanently suspend the accounts of BJP leaders including BJP national president JP Nadda and union minister Smriti Irani for allegedly “spreading misinformation and unrest in the society”.

The Congress filed FIRs in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan on the same day, accusing BJP leaders of sharing a fake ‘toolkit’ based on forged screenshots. The party yesterday wrote to Twitter urging it to remove tweets by Sambit Patra and other BJP leaders and suspend their accounts permanently for “spreading misinformation and unrest in society”.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT, in a “strong communication” to the global team of Twitter, has objected to the use of the ‘manipulated media tag on “certain tweets made by Indian political leaders with reference to a toolkit created to undermine, derail and demean the efforts of the government against COVID-19,” sources said.

As per a report by The Quint, “The Ministry has further stated that Twitter unilaterally chose to go ahead and designate certain tweets as ‘manipulated’, pending investigation. This action not only dilutes the credibility of Twitter but also puts question mark on status of Twitter as an ‘intermediary’,” sources were quoted as saying.

Last evening, a ‘manipulated media’ tag appeared below Mr Patra’s tweet, indicating that what he shared did not contain authentic information. Essentially, he claimed that the Congress shared a “toolkit” or document to tarnish the BJP government’s namte. The hashtag #CongressToolKitExposed soon began trending.

BJP leader Sambit Patra shared two screenshots to connect the alleged toolkit to Congress MP Rajeev Gowda’s office. He alleged that a member in Gowda’s team, Saumya Varma, was the author of the toolkit. However, cyber experts said that one of the screenshots shared by Patra was fake. According to them, as per a report in The Print, the file properties of the alleged toolkit as are inauthentic, as some technical elements were missing in the description.

Fact-checking website AltNews also, in a detailed report, debunked the BJP’s claim, that the Congress had shared such a toolkit. The report by the website said that it was in fact created on a fake Congress letterhead.

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