Twitter Briefly Drops Blue Tick From M Venkaiah Naidu’s Personal Handle

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M Venkaiah Naidu’s Twitter account’s blue tick was restored after objections were raised (File)

New Delhi:

Twitter on Saturday briefly removed the blue tick or “verified” badge from the personal handle of Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, in new provocation for the government in an ongoing standoff.

The blue tick was restored within a few hours, reportedly when objections were raised by the Vice President’s office. Government sources had also talked about tough action, saying “Twitter wants to test India’s patience”.

The verified status had been removed from @MVenkaiahNaidu for “inactivity”, said a report by news agency ANI. “The personal account of Venkaiah Naidu was inactive for six months and the blue badge has gone,” ANI quoted an official from the Vice President’s office as saying.

The last tweet from the account was on July 23, 2020.

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Government sources, however, called it an outrageous act against the “Number 2” constitutional head of the country. They pointed out that the accounts of former Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj had stayed verified long after their death in 2019.

“The Vice President is above politics. It is a constitutional post. Can Twitter do the same with American leaders in constitutional posts,” IT ministry sources questioned.

Twitter’s action “unverifying” the account of Mr Naidu, a former BJP president who has been Vice President of India since 2017, is controversial in the middle of its confrontation with the government over a range of issues including its stand on new digital rules for social media sites.

After flagging “freedom of expression” concerns over the new rules, Twitter appointed an Indian interim grievance redressal officer, but has yet to name a compliance officer and a nodal officer mandated by the Centre’s rules.

Last month, Twitter’s move to mark as “manipulated media” the posts of BJP leaders on an alleged Congress toolkit drew a sharp response from the government, which sternly asked the site to undo the label, calling it “an overreach and prejudicial”.

The accounts of prominent RSS leaders, Suresh Joshi, Suresh Soni, Krishna Gopal and Arun Kumar, have also lost their “verified” status. The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP.

The blue tick or “verified” mark signifies that an account is “authentic, notable and active”, Twitter explains.

The microblogging site says the account must represent or be associated with a prominently recognized individual or brand. Accounts that are verified include those of key government officials and offices, including heads of state, elected officials, appointed ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, and official spokespeople.

“To qualify, there must be a public reference to the account on an official government or party site or publication, or multiple references in news media,” says Twitter.

According to the site’s terms, the blue tick or verified status may be removed any time, without notice.

“You may lose your badge if you change your account name (@handle), if your account becomes inactive or incomplete, or if you are no longer in the position you initially were verified for – such as an elected government official who leaves office – and you do not otherwise meet our criteria for verification,” says Twitter.



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