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Twitter agrees to shut down accounts parodying India's prime minister

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Twitter has agreed to cooperate after the Indian government complained about parody accounts related to the country’s prime minister.

After failing to have the company shut down six accounts parodying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the government asked Internet Service Providers to block those accounts.

"We are fine with parody, even though at times it is in bad taste, and there is criticism of the government,” a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told the Times of India. “But we cannot allow anyone to misrepresent the PM's office and tweet nonsense from these accounts."

The accounts in question had handles which were similar in appears to that of the official account, @PMOIndia. They included @PM0India and @PMOIndiaa. While Twitter allows users to parody someone else, impersonation is forbidden. Since the handles of the spoof accounts resembled that of Singh’s, and they use his name and Twitter profile photo, it could legitimately lead followers to believe that they’re the real deal even though they note in their bios that they are parodies.

According to the Times of India, Twitter told the PMO it did not act sooner because the government did not properly report the accounts through Twitter’s regular channels for such matters, and as such the “request was not located." It said it was reviewing the request and added, "India is important to us and we would like to have clearer communication in these matters in future."

Yet it seems that Twitter has not yet taken action to suspend the accounts. They are still available to view, while MediaNama claims that they’re still accessible in India as well.

The issue falls on the heels of India asking Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, to monitor and block offensive content posted by users.

Photo via @PMOIndia/Twitter