/Twitter uses IT Act to claim immunity in Islamophobia case

Twitter uses IT Act to claim immunity in Islamophobia case

(This story originally appeared in on Oct 02, 2020)

HYDERABAD: Twitter India said on Thursday it had taken action against 23 lakh accounts for violating its policies and suspended 8.72 lakh accounts in 2019. As many as 29 lakh offensive posts were also removed between July and December last year by its rules enforcement section for posting material spreading hatred among people, Twitter claimed.

In connection with the Islamophobia case, Twitter’s senior counsel (litigation and regulatory), Micah L Rubbo, informed the Telangana HC that the social networking site is only an intermediary and not an originator of the messages posted. Claiming immunity under Sec 79 of the Information Technology Act, Micah said an intermediary cannot be held responsible.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Khaja Aijazuddin who brought to the notice of the court the hate-filled posts against Islam and Muslims immediately after the outbreak of Covid-19 in India. These hate posts were carried on Twitter with scores of hashtags like #Islamiccoronavirusjihad, #Coronajihad, #Tablighijamat, #Nizamuddinidiots, #Tablighi Jamat Virus’, etc.

Stating that all such hate posts were removed from Twitter immediately upon noticing them, Micah said this was done after an alert from Twitter’s algorithm about unacceptable posts that violate the social networking service’s policies.

“Twitter is a global website for self-expression of its users to communicate and stay connected through small messages, sometimes with pictures or videos. For the hate posts that are questioned here, Twitter is not the author nor did it post those hashtags and tweets,” he explained.

Stating that each user contractually agrees to the terms of Twitter before using the service, Micah said: “It is the user who owns the responsibility for the consequences of his or her post.” Twitter also contended that the petition against it was not maintainable because it was registered in the US.

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