Tech billionaire Elon Musk recently commented on Twitter’s removal of content related to the BBC documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, released in January this year. Musk said in an interview that he is not aware of the specifics regarding the content takedown, but acknowledged that social media content rules in India are “quite strict.”
In January, the Indian government directed Twitter to block over 50 tweets that linked to a BBC documentary questioning Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The documentary was not aired in India, but some YouTube channels uploaded the video.
“I am not aware of this particular situation… don’t know what exactly happened with some content situation in India,” Musk said in an interview with the BBC broadcast live on Twitter Spaces as quoted by Reuters.
The documentary titled “India: The Modi Question” focused on Modi’s leadership as chief minister of Gujarat during the riots, in which at least 1,000 people were killed. Musk stated that if complying with the laws means avoiding imprisonment, Twitter will comply.
Several YouTube videos that shared the initial episode of the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question” were blocked based on the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s directions on January 21. In addition, the government had instructed Twitter to block more than 50 tweets that contained links to these YouTube videos.
YouTube and Twitter complied with the government after the Secretary of Information and Broadcasting reportedly issued emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 on January 20. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), a national broadcaster in the UK, aired a two-part series that criticized PM Modi’s term as Gujarat Chief Minister during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The documentary sparked controversy and was subsequently removed from specific platforms.
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