After blocking a number of inflammatory Twitter accounts, officials in India are pressing Twitter to track down the users responsible for spreading the false information. 

Twitter could face legal trouble in India if it does not comply with demands by the government to block offensive content posted by users.

False information and doctored images have spread throughout India, with images depicting violence against Muslims causing panic in the northeast region. The government took action this week to block a number of Twitter, Facebook, and Google accounts that spread the misinformation.

Officials in India look set to take the crackdown further, with the Times of India citing a senior government figure as saying that authorities told Twitter it faced legal action if it declined to help the government track down the source of the false information.

Facebook and YouTube have already informed the government that the inflammatory messages originated from Pakistan. Both Facebook and YouTube’s parent Google have offices in India, but Twitter does not, and that’s apparently making cooperation with the company more difficult.

A department of telecom representative told the Times of India it will do whatever’s necessary to “address the problem” if Twitter does not capitulate to the government’s demands.

Hundreds of millions of tweets show up on Twitter every day. While it’d be possible to institute filters blocking certain words and phrases, blocking tweets containing inflammatory images and videos would be far difficult.

Taking Twitter’s March figure of 340 million tweets per day and the assumption that it takes five seconds to read and deal with each tweet, Twitter would need to cover the equivalent of 35,416 eight-hour shifts per day to manually check every tweet before it shows up on the site.

Twitter routinely receives requests to reveal the identity of people who posted illegal or otherwise questionable content. In its semiannual Transparency Report, Twitter revealed it received fewer than 10 requests from India for information on specific users in the first six months of the year.

Photo by jasleen_kaur/Flickr

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