Twitter removes verification badges of personal accounts of VP Naidu, RSS top brass; restores later citing rules

·3-min read

New Delhi, Jun 5 (PTI) Twitter removed the 'blue tick' or the verification badge from the personal accounts of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and senior RSS functionaries, including Mohan Bhagwat, only to restore it later on Saturday evoking a sharp reaction from Sangh leaders and followers who described the act as an example of 'tech feudalism'.

Amid the outrage, Twitter said according to its rules, the blue badge and verified status could be automatically removed from an account if it is incomplete or inactive for six months.

The controversy on the removal of verification badge came on a day when the central government issued a notice to Twitter giving it one last chance to 'immediately' comply with the new IT rules and warned that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act.

In the morning, officials of the Vice President Secretariat said the personal Twitter handle of Naidu @MVenkaiahNaidu was inactive for a long time and the Twitter algorithm removed the blue badge.

The last tweet posted from the personal handle was on July 23 last year.

The officials said Twitter was contacted after they noticed this morning that the blue tick was removed. Before 10.30 am, the blue tick badge was restored, they said.

Twitter said the account has been inactive since July 2020. It said the verified badge has now been restored. The Vice President uses the official Twitter handle @VPSecretariat to send out tweets.

The accounts of RSS' Suresh Soni, Arun Kumar, Suresh Joshi and Krishna Gopal also lost the blue tick. But the badge was later restored after a lot of hue and cry by Sangh sympathisers on social media.

The blue tick, which is a verification badge, was removed from five accounts belonging to senior functionaries of the RSS, the ruling BJP's ideological mentor, sources in the Sangh said.

Taking strong objection to Twitter's decision to remove the blue tick, Rajiv Tuli, a functionary in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) Delhi unit, told PTI that this 'clearly shows biasness and a clear example of 'tech feudalism' by Twitter'.

He cited several Twitter handles which have been 'inactive but continue to remain verified'.

Tuli said it was 'done after much heckling'.

VHP's Vinod Bansal alleged that Twitter was behaving like East India Company which was minting money in India and at the same time abusing Indians.

He said the policy of the social media giant was not uniform and it was tine for it to rethink its policy.

Twitter said, according to its verification policy, it may automatically remove the blue verified badge and verified status if the account becomes inactive or is incomplete.

'Inactivity is based on logging in. To keep the account active, the account holder must make sure to log in at least every 6 months,' Twitter said.

Accounts holders that sport the blue badge must also ensure that their profiles are complete and include either a verified email address or phone number as well as a profile image and a display name, as per the rules.

Twitter, however, did not disclose the number and details of the accounts that had been actioned under these rules.

The blue badge helps users distinguish the authenticity of accounts that are of high public interest, and gives Twitter users more context about who they're having conversations with, the micro-blogging platform had earlier stated. PTI JTR SR MBI NAB ZMN

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