Jack Dorsey Says Indian Officials Raided Twitter Employees’ Homes

Jack Dorsey Says Indian Officials Raided Twitter Employees’ Homes

Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey says government officials in Turkey and India “made many requests” to remove posts or accounts tied to journalists and other dissident voices critical of the state during his leadership. Dorsey claimed the officials would demand Twitter provide targeted users’ contact information and threatened the company with fines if it refused to comply. In India in particular, Dorsey claims officials raided employees’ homes and threatened to shut down the company after the company initially refused to comply with government requests to shut down accounts and limits hashtags associated with the 2021 farmers’ protest.

“India is one of the countries which had many requests around farmers’ protests, around particular journalists which were critical of the government,” Dorsey said in an interview with Breaking Points. Twitter eventually caved to the government’s pressure after officials threatened employees with jail time.

“This is India, a democratic country,” an exacerbated Dorsey added. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dorsey similarly called out goverment officials in Turkey who “threatened to shut us down constantly.” In Nigeria, Dorsey claimed Twitter would not even station staff in the area out of fear they could be targeted by the government. India’s Deputy Minister for Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar quickly lashed out against Dorsey’s recent statements Monday, calling them an “outright lie.”

“No one went to jail nor was twitter ‘shutdown,’ Chandrasekhar tweeted. “Dorseys [sic] Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law. India as a sovereign nation has the right to ensure that its laws are followed by all companies operating in India.”

Chandrasekhar said the posts in question during the time of 2021 farmers protest contained “a lot of misinformation,” and reports of genocide that were “definitely fake.” International human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, however, say Indian officials demonized dissenters and punished journalists.

Indian officials have a storied history of taking action against foreign social media companies. Back in 2020, India became one of the first countries to issue a nationwide TikTok ban over perceived national securities concerns, setting a precedent more than a dozen countries would follow. The government also took action against Meta (then called Facebook) in 2016, banning its free but limited “Free Basics” internet service in the country after hundreds of businesses warned it would harm competition. Activists at the time accused the U.S. company of engaging in a digital colonialism.

Dorsey confident Musk willl ‘figure it out’ on free speech

Dorsey’s comment about the Indian government came in response to a question from host Krystal Ball asking the former CEO to grade Elon Musk’s commitment to free speech on Twitter. Though Dorsey said he hoped Musk would “figure it out” he said the billionaire’s stated principle of adhering to local speech laws leaves this version of Twitter less equipped to push back against legal but oppressive takedown requests from certain governments like India or Turkey.

In the latter case, Musk was criticised by free speech proponents and human rights groups after the company restricted access to certain accounts at the behest of the Turkish government just days before a major presidential election. That kowtowing to government pressure stands in stark contrast to Twitter’s response during the Dorsey era, where the company sued both the Turkish and Indian governments over attempts to target specific users.

“He can always be compelled,” Dorsey said of Musk. “He is one person, he is one single point of failure and pressure can be put on him. This is going to be the reality for any centrally controlled company.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Dorsey explained his support for 2024 presidential candidate and flaming anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The Twitter co-founder admitted he had only discovered Kennedy this year, but said he warmed up to the politician after binge-listening to podcasts he’d appeared on.

“There’s an edge,” Dorsey said of Kennedy. “There’s no fear in explaining a topic that might be a little bit controversial.”

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