X takes down four posts by leaders of BJP, AAP, YSR Congress, TDP on Election Commission of India order

This is the first time that X is disclosing takedown orders from India since April 2023. 

Updated - April 19, 2024 10:50 am IST

Published - April 17, 2024 12:10 am IST - NEW DELHI

Representational image of X (formerly Twitter) logo.

Representational image of X (formerly Twitter) logo. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Social media platform X (formerly Twitter), released a letter by the Election Commission of India (EC) ordering a takedown of four posts on the platform by political leaders in the YSR Congress Party, the Telugu Desam Party, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The company said that it disagrees with the takedown order issued by the EC, and that “freedom of expression should extend to these posts and political speech in general”. The company has taken the tweets down in India, but they are visible from non-Indian Internet connections.

This is the first time that X is proactively disclosing a takedown notice from India to the public since April 2023, when it stopped publishing summaries of such orders with links to affected posts on the Lumen Database website. The EC has issued such orders in the past to X, which have been disclosed and reported in the media; however, subsequent disclosures for government takedowns around the world come selectively through the handle of the social media platform’s Global Affairs team. In the current batch of orders, the poll body has cited a prohibition on campaigners targeting their rivals’ personal lives while politicking. 

The YSR Congress’s post was not immediately available on Tuesday evening, indicating that the party has chosen to delete the post altogether. Telugu Desam Party leader N. Chandrababu Naidu’s post featured what appears to be a document from the Central Bureau of Investigation, where he says that the agency “seized a staggering 25,000 kilos of drugs at Vizag Port, today,” and that “non-cooperation of AP Police and port employees suggests complicity and point towards the potential involvement of the ruling party.” Mr. Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party is in the opposition in Andhra Pradesh.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s post features a headline from the online news portal The Quint, which reads, “ED Arrested Aurobindo Pharma’s Director. 5 Days Later, It Bought Electoral Bonds.” The party added a caption to the post saying “Bond Chor [thief],” over an image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi edited to redden his eyes and superimpose a pose by the actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui from the poster for the film Raman Raghav 2.0, where the actor plays a serial killer. 

The final tweet takedown was from the account of Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and BJP member Samrat Choudhary, who in a video and tweet said that Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad was a “seasoned player” in selling tickets to contest elections. Mr. Choudhary added a remark that Mr. Prasad “did not even spare his daughter” in this, and “took a kidney from her and then gave a ticket.” Mr. Choudhary appeared to be referencing the fact that Mr. Prasad’s daughter Rohini Acharya had donated her kidney to him for a transplant last February.

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