Twitter rages about blocked accounts, Government says no journalists targeted

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Twitter rages about blocked accounts, Government says no journalists targeted
Twitter users across India were up in arms Thursday morning about blocked accounts - here are the top 10 developments.

1. This morning, #GOIBlocks was trending on twitter because of reports that accounts of individuals had been blocked.

2. At 9:30 am, on some Internet Service Providers (we checked Airtel and MTNL), it was not possible to directly access Twitter profiles of at least 5 users. Tweets by these individuals showed as usual in the  timeline of those who follow them. The account holders could also log in and post tweets.  So what was inaccessible was their profile pages where a history of tweets is available.

3. People accessing Twitter via applications on their PC or mobile, however, were able to access profiles of these users.

4. Some of the blocked profiles belonged to journalists. 

5. By 10:30 am, the profiles were no longer blocked, and visiting displayed their Twitter profile as normal.

6. Airtel refused to comment on today's incident, while we couldn't reach anyone from MTNL for comment.

7. Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said it had not asked for the accounts of any journalists to be blocked. Experts believe that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) reacted to orders from the government to block certain accounts.  Since ISPs by themselves can't block these users from posting to Twitter (that can only be done by Twitter itself), they chose to block access to these profiles instead (the most they can do from their end).

8. Experts say ISPs should share at least part of the blame, as they go overboard with their blocking, and if they stuck to the letter of the law, there wouldn't be any reason for outrage on the social media. ISPs was trending on Twitter in India all afternoon.

9. The incident comes a day after Airtel had blocked the entire domain across its broadband and mobile users for at least 2 hours.  Popular video website YouTube runs the domain as a short-URL service for its full website. Thus, every video on YouTube has a corresponding URL. This short URL is typically used while sharing videos on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which impose character limits.

10. Airtel did not acknowledge blocking the entire domain, but issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon "This is an industry-specific issue and not just restricted to Airtel. We can't really comment on anything really specific but if you need comments it will be best if (you talk to) an industry body or the regulator talks about the same."

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Further reading: ISPs, India, Internet Blocked, Twitter, Internet
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