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The de facto leader of India's main opposition party complained on Twitter about "strange" activity on his account, accusing the American giant of being an "unwitting" ally of the government in restricting free speech, AFP reported.

Rahul Gandhi of the Congress Party told the Twitter CEO in a letter that the growth of his new Twitter followers "suddenly" stopped last August, dropping from an average of hundreds of thousands a month to nearly zero.

"I have been reliably, albeit discreetly, informed by people at Twitter India that they are under immense pressure by the government to silence my voice," he said.

He said he believed Twitter is part of an "unwitting complicity in curbing free and fair speech"

Twitter reported this week that India ranks fourth in the world in the number of requests made by the government to remove content, after Japan, Russia and Turkey.

India also leads the world in the number of Internet outages. In 2019, service was suspended for several months in Kashmir as part of a major security operation in the disputed territory.

Last year, the government introduced new rules for social media, requiring companies to remove and identify the "first author" of posts deemed to undermine Indian sovereignty, national security and public order.

A senior Congressional Party official told AFP on Thursday that Gandhi's number of followers "jumped by 100,000 within two days of Twitter's response to his letter."

 

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