Modi leads protest against Web ‘gag’ on Twitter page
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The government's attempts to cleanse social networking websites of allegedly offensive content has triggered a political controversy, with several politicians taking their pictures off Twitter to protest the "clampdown".
Leading the way was Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who replaced his picture with a black square after tweeting he was doing so to protest against the "crackdown on freedom of speech".
"As a common man, I join the protest against crackdown on freedom of speech! Have changed my DP (display picture). 'Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan'," Modi tweeted. His protest went viral, and a number of his followers on Twitter followed suit.
The profile pictures of Biju Janata Dal MP Jay Panda and RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav too went missing. Madhav took off his picture after Minister of State Harish Rawat said those who had 'darkened' their Twitter photos were RSS followers. "I am obviously an RSS man. I must therefore blacken my page," Madhav said.
"The obvious intention of this government in blocking websites and Facebook/Twitter accounts of some persons is to intimidate genuine users of new media. The message being conveyed is that big brother is watching. The Congress has politicised the issue by harassing those opposed to its political ideology. The Twitter account of VHP leader Praveen Togadia was blocked even though he has not once tweeted anything objectionable about the Assam violence," Madhav said.
Ironically for the government, even the Twitter account of Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology Milind Deora became inaccessible on Friday, and had not been restored until late evening.
That forced Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to clarify that the government's intention was only to act against people who were spreading hate messages or rumours. "We are not taking action against other accounts, be it on Facebook, Twitter or even on SMSes. There is no censorship at all," he said.
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