The battle for Twitter’s ownership has gone to court in the US but the microblogging site continues to face a range of international issues amidst Twitter vs Elon Musk saga.

Twitter filed a lawsuit against Musk in Delaware court, saying the billionaire tried to “trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value, and walk away” after agreeing to purchase the platform.

Musk has argued that he is entitled to terminate the agreement since Twitter has not given him enough information regarding fake accounts on the site, while Twitter wants the court to order him to buy Twitter at the agreed-upon price of $54.20 per share.

While the fight for ownership is ongoing, Deepti Sharma, Director ThinkerPlace, told News18: “Twitter has always been an open platform that facilitates freedom of expression on different topics, issues and trends around the world. Though the ownership of Twitter is being debated, I believe that the essence of Twitter as a primary ‘opinion-sharing’ platform should not change irrespective of who the owner is”.

Meanwhile, Tanya Swetta, CEO and Co-founder of id8 Media Solutions, said: “While the change in leadership and its repercussions on the financial situation of the social media platform are unknown, the revenue generated through advertisers has witnessed a downward graph. Twitter will have to rebuild its image given the precarious waters it’s in.”

But this battle with the billionaire is not the only issue Twitter is witnessing. Around the world, in countries like India and the US, as well as in Europe, the company has been facing a real hard time.

Twitter Vs Indian Government

Earlier this month, Twitter had filed a lawsuit in the Karnataka High Court in Bengaluru against the Indian government to contest some of the block orders on tweets and accounts. The microblogging site alleged that the Centre had abused its power by ordering Twitter to remove several tweets randomly and disproportionately from the platform.

Twitter also said the Centre had threatened to file criminal charges in India against its senior compliance officer if the business didn’t comply with orders.

This bitter relationship between the company and the authorities is not new, as Twitter had a difficult year and a half in India and partially complied with the requests from the government.

Here, it needs to be understood that the IT Rules 2021 played a major role. Recently, the central government handed the company another warning, saying it was “one last chance” for Twitter India to comply with the IT Rules.
The government also warned that if the requirements are not followed by July 4, the social media site will lose its intermediary status.

Later, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) took the step in response to Twitter’s “repeated failures to act on the content take-down notices provided under Section 69 A of the IT Act” and “non-compliance notices issued for not taking the content down”.

Regarding the feud between the government and the company, Prof Vineeta Dwivedi – Head – Digital Communications at Bhavan’s SPJIMR tod News18: “Twitter is a space for free speech but it can also be used very powerfully for expressions of discontent and criticism not to mention disinformation. The government is wary and concerned about this.”

“Twitter has had run-ins with the government last year during the farmers’ protest too. The recent Nupur Sharma controversy bred on Twitter. However, the reach of this medium in India is smallest as compared to any other social media platform and when it takes the government to court, the matter appears to be more about freedom of speech. It is an interesting turn and may have far-reaching consequences on internet censorship,” she added.

However, the Centre has also asked the social media companies why they comply with legal notices in India less frequently than in other developed nations.

Prior to that Twitter had released its monthly compliance report according to which it suspended more than 46,000 accounts belonging to Indian users for breaking its rules between April 26 and May 25 this year.

Meanwhile, it was also understood that Twitter does not completely comply with removal notices from authorities in other countries. For example, Twitter’s overall compliance percentage for legal demands in the first six months of 2021 in India, the US, and the UK was 11%, 13% and 7%, respectively, according to its worldwide transparency report.

Issues in Other Countries

The EU’s Digital Services Act, which establishes new requirements for tech platforms for the removal of illegal or otherwise damaging content, is slated to take effect this fall.

So, it indicated that because of the new constraints on targeted advertising and transparency requirements that will force the platform to be more transparent about how it works, the EU law may force Twitter, along with other worldwide platforms, to reorganise its operations in Europe.

Similarly, in the UK, Online Safety Bill, which is now being debated in Parliament, would likewise impose new requirements on Twitter. It is a complex and expanded piece of legislation that aims to create safer online places for adults and children, safeguard free expression, and foster innovation by regulating tech businesses.

Apart from the Musk vs Twitter drama, the American government sued the company alleging that it misled users about how it secures their personal data, and the social media corporation agreed to pay $150 million in fine.

According to the federal lawsuit, Twitter failed to warn its users for years that it utilised their contact information to assist marketers to target their advertising, violating a 2011 privacy accord with the Federal Trade Commission.

Now, the new proposed settlement between Twitter and the FTC to resolve the allegations also prohibits the company from profiting from “deceptively collected data” and allows for user authentication methods other than phone numbers, such as multi-factor authentication apps. Twitter users in the US will also be informed about the company’s alleged failure to disclose its practice of exploiting contact information for advertising purposes.

However, there are other concerns too. According to a survey conducted a few years ago when former US President Donald Trump was in the White House, 65% of “self-described conservatives” in the US believed that social media companies, including Twitter, were intentionally censoring conservatives and conservative ideas from such sites.

So Twitter facing criticism in the US when Trump was removed from the platform in the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the Capitol was not shocking.

Separately, it was revealed in the latest report that Twitter and other social media platforms have failed to keep up with evolving Russian propaganda operations around the invasion of Ukraine. The Washington Post reported that as of late June, more than 70% of anti-Ukrainian hate speech posts on Twitter, as well as on YouTube were still available, and more than 90% of the accounts responsible for such posts were still active.

It should be noted that like other social media platforms, Twitter has regulations prohibiting users from praising Russia’s invasion or assaulting Ukrainians based on their nationality, but the companies emphasise that it normally takes more than one infraction for an account to be suspended.

The report also stated that along with YouTube, Twitter has also taken action on several accounts after the issues came to their attention in July.

In the case of Russia, the authorities tried to restrict the flow of information about the war by blocking Twitter’s access but the company then announced the launch of a new privacy-protected site to circumvent surveillance and censorship.

However, it should be also noted that as a result of severe laws, Twitter is also facing additional hurdles in other countries. For example, in Japan, it was recently announced that the authorities will levy fines against social media companies including Twitter for failing to register their headquarters in the country, while in Turkey last year, authorities imposed advertising bans on Twitter under a new social media law.

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