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India warns Twitter as it tags Leh as part of China

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India warned Twitter to respect the country's sovereignty after the social media platform showed Jammu and Kashmir as part of China in its location tag in a live broadcast. 

IT Secretary Ajay Sawhney, in a letter, said it also raises questions on Twitter’s neutrality and fairness.

The latest Twitter controversy follows the hacking of a Twitter account linked to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personal website and mobile app two months ago.

What happened on Twitter?

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Last Sunday, author and national security analyst Nitin Gokhale did a live broadcast on Twitter from the Hall of Fame — a war memorial in Leh. As it happened, the location tag displayed in the video was marked "Jammu and Kashmir, People’s Republic of China."

As the issue was spotted by the Twitter users, all hell broke loose. There was a massive outrage among many Indian users, who accused Twitter of being unfair. 

“Twitter folks, I just did a live from the Hall of Fame. Giving Hall of Fame as the location and guess what it is saying Jammu & Kashmir, Peoples Republic of China! Are you guys nuts?” Gokhale himself tweeted.

Some other users uploaded images and live broadcasts with their location tagged as Leh. The results were similar and the Hall of Fame in Leh was displayed as part of China.

In India where the social atmosphere is already surcharged with anti-China sentiments, Twitter's faux pas added fuel to the fire.

As the issue snowballed into a major talking point, the Indian government today stepped in.

India's letter to Jack Dorsey 

India's response to Twitter was taken up by its IT Secretary Ajay Sawhney. Addressed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the letter warned any attempt by the social media giant to “disrespect sovereignty and integrity of India, which is also reflected by the maps, is totally unacceptable and also unlawful”.

It also raises questions about Twitter's neutrality and fairness as an intermediary, the letter said.

Sawhney reminded Twitter that Leh is the headquarters of Union Territory of Ladakh and both Ladakh as well as Jammu and Kashmir are integral and inalienable parts of India governed by the Constitution of India.

Twitter's response

Twitter has acknowledged the issue and said a technical error was to blame. “We became aware of this technical issue on Sunday, and understand and respect the sensitivities around it. Teams have worked swiftly to investigate and resolve the concerned geotag issue."

Further responding to the Indian government's letter, a Twitter spokesperson said: "Twitter remains committed to working with the government of India. We respect the sensitivities involved and have duly acknowledged the letter."

Even as tensions between India and China continue, there are issues like this that further muddy the waters. 

Recently, in another incident, users of Xiaomi phones in India complained that the device didn’t display weather reports for places in Arunachal Pradesh.

India has banned several hundreds of Chinese apps for engaging in activities which are "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of state and public order.”

Balakumar K

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.