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Twitter India Said to Pursue Judicial Review of Content Takedown Orders, Alleging Abuse of Power

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Twitter is seeking to overturn some Indian government orders to take down content on the social media platform, a source familiar with the matter said, in a legal challenge which alleges abuse of power by officials.

The US company’s attempt to get a judicial review is part of a growing confrontation with New Delhi.

Twitter has been asked by Indian authorities over the past year to act on content including accounts supportive of an independent Sikh state, posts alleged to have spread misinformation about protests by farmers and over tweets critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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India’s IT ministry did not immediately respond on Tuesday to a request for comment about Twitter’s legal move.

The Indian government has previously said that big social media firms, including Twitter, have not complied with removal requests, despite their legal standing.

Late last month, Twitter was warned by India’s IT ministry of criminal proceedings if it did not comply with some orders. Twitter complied this week, the source said, so as not to lose liability exemptions available as a host of content.

Twitter argues in its request for a judicial review that some removal orders fell short of the procedural requirements of India’s IT Act, the source said, without specifying which ones Twitter wanted to be reviewed.

The IT Act allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security, among other reasons.

Twitter, which market research firms say has nearly 24 million users in India, also argues in its filing that some of the orders failed to give notice to the authors of the content.

It also says that some were related to political content posted by official handles of political parties, the blocking of which amounted to a violation of freedom of speech, the source added.

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Tensions with the Indian government flared early last year when Twitter declined to fully comply with an order to take down accounts and posts which New Delhi alleged were spreading misinformation about anti-government protests by farmers.

The company has also been subject to police investigations in India and last year many Indian government ministers moved to the domestically developed platform Koo, accusing Twitter of non-compliance with local laws.

Twitter has also faced a backlash in India for blocking accounts of influential individuals, including politicians, citing violations of its policies.

India, which industry transparency reports show has among the highest government requests for content takedowns, is considering some amendments to its new IT rules, including the introduction of a government-run appeals panel with the power to reverse the content moderation decisions of social media firms.

New Delhi has said such measures were needed because the companies had violated Indians’ constitutional rights.

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© Thomson Reuters 2022


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YouTube Plans to Launch Online Store for Streaming Video Services: Report

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Alphabet’s YouTube is planning to launch an online store for streaming video services, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The company has renewed talks with entertainment companies about participating in the platform, which it is referring to internally as a “channel store”, the report said, citing people close to the recent discussions.

The platform has been in the works for at least 18 months and could be available as early as this fall, the report added.

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Alphabet did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

With more consumers cutting the cord on cable or satellite TV and shifting to subscription-based streaming services, the planned launch will allow YouTube to join companies like Roku and Apple in a bid to gain a portion of the already crowded streaming market.

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Walmart has held talks with media companies about including streaming entertainment in its membership service.

Last month, YouTube collaborated with Shopify to allow merchants to sell through the video platform, as the Canadian company looks to tap into the growing number of content creators launching their own e-commerce stores. The partnership, which builds on an existing one with Google, will allow merchants to integrate their online stores with YouTube, which reaches over two billion monthly users. Shopify, which makes tools for merchants to set up their online stores, in June launched new features to help its clients sell to other businesses and on Twitter in a bid to counter a post-pandemic slowdown in online shopping.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


 

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US Gunman Posted 'Call to Arms' on Truth Social After FBI Searched Donald Trump's Home: Reports

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An armed man who fled after attempting to breach an FBI office in Ohio appears to have posted a “call to arms” on Donald Trump’s Truth Social platform after federal agents searched the ex-president’s home, US media reported Friday.

An account bearing the name of 42-year-old suspect Ricky Shiffer, identified by Ohio authorities on Friday, featured multiple posts of violent anger including his failed plan to attack the FBI, according to screen shots of the profile, multiple US outlets reported.

“This is your call to arms,” an account bearing Shiffer’s name posted on Truth Social.

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“I am proposing war,” the account posted, urging “patriots” to kill federal agents the day after Trump’s Florida residence was searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation — a move that sparked outrage in right-wing circles.

Shortly before it was removed from the social media platform, the same account appeared on Thursday to confess to attempting to storm FBI offices in the midwestern state of Ohio.

The FBI said Thursday that a person armed with a weapon had tried to breach the entry to the bureau’s office in the city of Cincinnati.

According to local media, the man fired a nail gun and brandished an AR-15-style rifle before fleeing by car.

“Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t. If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the FBI, and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the FBI got me, or they sent the regular cops while,” read a post, which appears to end mid-sentence and was shared Thursday morning, according to reports.

The incident drew nationwide attention as it occurred only a few days after the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion, although there was no immediate confirmation the events were linked.

The suspect in Ohio was killed in a standoff with police after a vehicle pursuit and exchange of gunfire, authorities said.


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Elon Musk Teases Potential Social Media Site as Competitor for Twitter

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Amid his ongoing legal battle against Twitter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased a potential social media site of his own as a competitor for Twitter. While responding to a question from one of his followers, Musk dropped a cryptic tweet, hinting at a potential new social media platform ‘X.com’.

On Tuesday, a social media user asked the billionaire tech tycoon whether he had given any thought to creating his own social platform.

Musk, who is quite active on Twitter, noticed the question and responded by just writing “X.com”.

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X.com used to be the domain name of a startup Musk founded two decades ago, which he later merged with financial services company PayPal.

In fact, last week, Musk talked about the website during Tesla‘s annual shareholder meeting last week as well.

“I do sort of have a grander vision for what I thought X Corporation could have been back in the day. It’s a pretty grand vision and of course, that could be started from scratch but I think Twitter would accelerate that by three to five years,” Musk had reportedly said.

The tweet comes at a time when Musk is involved in a high-stakes legal battle with Twitter.

Twitter recently sued Musk after he decided to back out of the $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3.5 lakh crore) takeover deal. In April, Musk reached an acquisition agreement with Twitter at $54.20 (roughly Rs. 4,500) per share in a transaction valued at approximately $44 billion.

However, Musk put the deal on hold in May to allow his team to review the veracity of Twitter’s claim that less than 5 percent of accounts on the platform are bots or spam.

Back in June, Musk had openly accused the microblogging website of breaching the merger agreement and threatened to walk away and call off the acquisition of the social media company for not providing the data he has requested on spam and fake accounts.

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Musk alleged that Twitter is “actively resisting and thwarting his information rights” as outlined by the deal, CNN reported, citing the letter he sent to Twitter’s head of legal, policy and trust, Vijaya Gadde.

Musk demanded that Twitter turn over information about its testing methodologies to support its claims that bots and fake accounts constitute less than 5 percent of the platform’s active user base, a figure the company has consistently stated for years in boilerplate public disclosures.


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