As BJP leaders and supporters rail against what has been dubbed a 'Congress toolkit', Twitter recently flagged a post by party spokesperson Sambit Patra for being misleading. According to Twitter's policies, such tags are added when one shares or promotes deceptive or manipulated media that is likely to cause harm or can potentially mislead people.
For the uninitiated, Patra had been hitting out at the Congress over a now viral document that hit out at the Narendra Modi-led government for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The two-part document contains a lengthy COVID-19 toolkit (a word that Greta Thunberg appears to have made famous in India) and several pages of research on the Central Vista project.
The Congress for its part had accused the BJP of propagating a "fake toolkit" to defame it and even filed a police complaint. It also wrote to Twitter calling for the permanent suspension of 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 NSUI on Wednesday lodged an FIR against former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra over the 'toolkit issue' for allegedly "forging" the letterhead of AICC Research Department and printing "false and fabricated" content.
While such a tag by itself does not mean any punitive action will be taken against his account, Twitter has in the past cited repeated infractions as a reason for the suspension of several prominent accounts. "Accounts engaging in repeated or severe violations of this policy may be permanently suspended," the company's policy adds. Actor Kangana Ranaut's account for example, was recently suspended for "repeated violation of Twitter Rules" including those pertaining to hateful conduct.
In the wake of the US Presidential election, Donald Trump had become well acquainted with 'censorship' on Twitter, with his repeated posts being flagged for being misleading or for featuring disputed claims. While this was not the first time that the microblogging platform had flagged posts, Trump was perhaps biggest personality to face such a situation.
In India however, there have only been a handful of occasions on which verified handles have had their posts tagged for misinformation - which in turn makes the action against Patra gain additional significance. In 2020, a post on the ongoing farmers protest by BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya has been flagged by Twitter as "manipulated media" by Twitter. This incidentally was the first such instance.