New Delhi: Social media platform Twitter found itself in yet another controversy in India after its famed blue tick was removed from the accounts of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and key Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders including chief Mohan Bhagwat.
Following a furore over the move Saturday, Twitter restored the blue ticks later in the evening. The blue tick represents a verified account.
Asked about the issue, a source said the process to remove the ‘blue tick’ on Twitter is an automated one and not manual.
Twitter’s verification policy states that “verified badges may be automatically removed from inactive and incomplete accounts”.
The Vice President’s account had been inactive since July 2020, according to Twitter.
An inactive account is one where the user doesn’t log in at least once “every 6 months”. “Accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity,” the policy states.
Twitter had announced earlier this year that it will remove verification badges from inactive and incomplete accounts. A complete account is defined as one meets all these requirements: a verified email address or a phone number; a profile image; and a display name.
“Last call! As part of our new verification policy, we’ll remove verification badges from inactive and incomplete accounts starting tomorrow, January 22. We’ve reached out directly to those who need to take action to stay verified,” Twitter Support tweeted in January.
Last call! As part of our new verification policy, we’ll remove verification badges from inactive and incomplete accounts starting tomorrow, January 22.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) January 21, 2021
Twitter had said it would be “automatically removing the verified badge from inactive and incomplete accounts” in December 2020 too.
It’s not immediately clear if the blue ticks on the Vice President and RSS chief’s accounts were restored due to the backlash online or because the accounts were logged into.
ThePrint reached Twitter for a comment via email but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
Users question ‘discrepancy’ in policy
Logging into the Twitter account indicates that the details provided to the company like email address, or phone number continue to be valid and in use by the account holder.
On Saturday, as Twitter removed the verified badge from the Vice President’s personal account over inactivity in at least six months, users questioned why other verified accounts of Hollywood actor Megan Fox, English singer Ed Sheeran, comedy group AIB, and late actor Sushant Singh Rajput have not lost their verified badges.
These accounts have not tweeted in the past 6 months.
Hello @TwitterIndia ,
When will you remove their blue verified badge?@meganfox ( inactive since 2013), @edsheeran ( inactive since 2017), @AllIndiaBakchod (inactive last 2 years) , @itsSSR (inactive last 17+ months) https://t.co/Hw6mdgpaKN
— PRINCE ➐ (Cauliflower Farmer) (@SaffronPrince_) June 5, 2021
However, on its inactive account policy page, the company says, “Please note that you may not be able to tell whether an account is currently inactive, as not all signs of account activity are publicly visible.”
Twitter battle with govt
Over the last few months, Twitter has been engaged in a battle with the Narendra Modi government.
India brought new IT rules earlier this year but the company has so far refused to comply with this.
On Saturday, the government issued a notice to the company giving it one last chance to “immediately” comply with the new IT rules, warning that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act.
Last month, Twitter tagged a tweet of BJP leader Sambit Patra on an alleged Congress toolkit to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ‘manipulated media’. The move came after the Congress lodged a complaint with the social media company’s headquarters in California.
The government responded with a strongly-worded communication, asking the company to remove the tag.
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