Delhi Police, controlled by India’s central government, on Monday evening searched two offices of Twitter — in the national capital state of Delhi and Gurgaon, in neighboring state of Haryana — to seek more information about Twitter’s rationale to label one of the tweets by ruling partly BJP spokesperson as “manipulated media.”
An hour into the search process, Delhi Police IT Cell team vacated both of Twitter’s offices because they were closed and there were no Twitter employees to engage with at the premises, according to live broadcast by several local news channels.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.
New Delhi sent a notice to Twitter last week after the social network labeled a tweet from Sambit Patra, the spokesperson of India’s ruling party BJP, as “manipulated media.”
In the tweet, Patra had claimed that Congress, the leading opposition party in India, was using a so-called “toolkit” to derail the Indian government’s efforts against the coronavirus pandemic. Alt News, a leading fact-checking organization in India, had debunked Patra’s claim.
“Delhi Police is enquiring into a complaint in which clarification is sought from Twitter regarding the classification of a tweet by Shri Sambit Patra (BJP spokesman) as ‘manipulative’. It appears that Twitter has some information which is not known to us on the basis of which they have classified it as such,” Delhi Police said in statements to local TV channels and other journalists.
“This information is relevant to the enquiry. Special Cell which is conducting the enquiry wants to find out the truth. Twitter which has claimed to know the underlying truth should clarify,” it added.
In a follow up statement, it disputed the characterization of today’s event as “raiding” and said it showed up at the premises to serve notice to the head of Twitter India.
Several policy executives and the like questioned Delhi Police’s motives.
The move also comes at a time when Twitter and Facebook are inching closer to the deadline to comply with India’s new guidelines to regulate social media.
In a new notice to both the firms, New Delhi warned that “failure to comply with IT rules could lead to loss of status and protections as intermediaries.”