On 31 December 2020, Twitter locked the official handle of The Kashmir Walla after we retweeted a news story on police excesses on unarmed civilians in the Muharram procession in August 2020 as part of #KashmirIn2020 series. The tech giant — infamous for censoring Kashmiri voices using an opaque legal process — has not responded to an appeal filed by us at 1:30 pm the same day.
We believe that the tweet doesn’t encourage violence but pertains to an urgent news story of police brutality and is important to bring attention towards the use of violence against unarmed civilians and record the same for posterity. (You can read the report here.) The media contained in the news story in no manner depicts a person that is deceased or is moments before their death, criteria cited by Twitter for censoring posts. The photographs are documentary proof of police excesses against civilians and hence important in the public domain.
Twitter has asked us to remove the tweet to access our account — if they do not accept our review application. We believe that the removal of the tweet and the restrictions placed on our account as counterproductive — as it goes against the principles of public interest journalism — and a case of mistaking the messenger to be the perpetrator of abuse. The internet should be a democratically regulated space and the tech giants should propagate a more transparent process of moderation instead of censoring the truthful voices.
We hope that Twitter reconsiders such restrictive actions against credible news organisations like The Kashmir Walla. We have already been facing repression over our work to keep people informed about facts. The independence of the press, which is already under threat by various elements, is now being scuttled by social media too. This will only choke space for independent journalism.