Twitter restores accounts of Indian broadcaster and news agency after brief suspension

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The Twitter handles of Indian news broadcaster NDTV (New Delhi Television) and news agency ANI were locked temporarily and restored after a few hours on Saturday.

Smita Prakash, editor of ANI tweeted a screenshot of the handle of the agency being locked on Saturday evening.

“So those who follow @ANI bad news, @Twitter has locked out India’s largest news agency which has 7.6 million followers and sent this mail - under 13 years of age! Our gold tick was taken away, substituted with a blue tick and now locked out,” Ms Prakash tweeted, tagging Elon Musk.

Ms Prakash’s screenshot included a message from Twitter that said that the account had been locked out as it “did not meet the age requirements“ required to be on the platform and would be removed.

Shortly after, broadcaster NDTV tweeted from the handle of its Hindi news channel that the Twitter account of its English news counterpart had been locked.

Tagging Mr Musk, NDTV India tweeted: “Twitter has blocked @ndtv (India’s most-followed English news handle). The account has been run by journalists since 2009. Please help restore it. Many thanks, Team NDTV.”

An immediate reason for the suspension of the two accounts was not given.

Both accounts appeared to be restored shortly afterwards.

International media accounts including US’ National Public Radio (NPR) and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) had stopped posting to their Twitter accounts earlier this month after the social media platform labelled them “Government-funded.”

Earlier this month, the BBC had objected to a similar label on its main Twitter account. The labels were later dropped.

Neither NDTV nor ANI are government-funded.

Last year, NDTV was acquired by billionaire Gautam Adani leading to speculations about the future of one of the country’s last bastions of free media.

ANI is also listed as a private company.

Neither is known to have any funding from the government.

Earlier this week, Twitter said that India was among the top countries that had requested the platform to remove content last year.

It said on Tuesday that it received approximately 53,000 legal requests to remove content from governments across the globe from 1 January to 30 June 2022.

Japan, South Korea, Turkey and India -- which topped these requests --- requested, according to The Economic Times.

The social media platform which was purchased by Mr Musk in 2022 for $44bn has seen widespread changes since his takeover.

In January, Twitter had said accounts will only be suspended for severe or ongoing and repeated violations of the platform’s policies.

It added that such suspensions could however be subject to appeal.

(Additional reporting by agencies)