Elon Musk is facing backlash for supporting state censorship due to Twitter’s alignment with the Indian government in a contentious free speech dispute involving a documentary that is critical of the Indian Prime Minister.
A new BBC documentary is at the center of the discussion. It revolves around Prime Minister Narendra Modi, specifically the claims that he allowed violence against Muslims motivated by religion in 2002.
Musk was slammed with hundreds of users sharing reports about Twitter blocking and banning BBC documentary links, and seeking Elon Musk’s comments on it
The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Modi, has instructed social media platforms, including Twitter, to censor posts related to a certain documentary. The government has described the documentary as “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage.” Twitter has apparently followed these instructions by blocking certain tweets from being viewed within India, as evidenced by notices posted by Twitter users this week.
A notice posted by Indian parliament member Derek O’Brien stated that one of his tweets, about a documentary, had been removed in India due to a legal demand. O’Brien also shared a screenshot of the notice in a Twitter post.
Western media and celebrities have questioned Musk and Twitter about blocking of links to the BBC documentary.
Hollywood actor John Cusack, a board member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and co-author of a book on government surveillance with Indian novelist Arundhati Roy, criticized Musk, calling him a “real profile in cowardice.”
Matthew Yglesias, a journalist whose daily newsletter is popular inside the Biden administration, said he feared what Musk might do for other hard-line figures such as Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Musk, the technology billionaire who acquired Twitter last year and has proclaimed himself as an advocate of absolute free speech, acknowledged the issue in a tweet on Wednesday, but did not make any commitments about his course of action.
He said that it would be “not possible” for him to address every issue on Twitter while also running Tesla and SpaceX. This comes after he faced significant backlash for obeying a directive from the Indian government.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, and Twitter, owned by Mr. Musk, have faced criticism for complying with the Indian government’s request to block sharing of the BBC documentary. The documentary features a British intelligence report that accuses Mr. Modi of being “directly responsible” for the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which thousands of Muslims were killed, while he was the chief minister of the state.