Musk Modi
Elon Musk and Indian PM Narendra Modi. Image:JD Lasica from Pleasanton, CA, US, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons and Flickr

Elon Musk-owned X has publicly expressed disagreement with the Indian government's order to suspend and impose penalties on certain accounts critical of the government.

X's official Global Government Affairs account posted a statement saying that they have had to implement the government's directives, but they do not agree with them.

"The Indian government has issued executive orders requiring X to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties including significant fines and imprisonment," it read.

"In compliance with the orders, we will withhold these accounts and posts in India alone; however, we disagree with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts," it added.

In addition to the statement condemning the action, the company has filed a writ appeal challenging the government's action. The X users whose accounts X has had to suspend have also been informed.

"Due to legal restrictions, we are unable to publish the executive orders, but we believe that making them public is essential for transparency. This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making," the statement further stated.

The actions of the government have taken social media by storm in India. Opposition leaders, farmer groups, and activists have all accused the government of muffling voices critical of its actions.

This comes days after India's Ministry of Electronics and IT ordered X to block 177 accounts linked to ongoing farmers' protests, according to a report in The New Indian Express.

The Modi government has often been accused of suppressing all forms of dissent in the country. The opposition lawmakers claim that the government is intolerant of any kind of criticism.

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had also accused the Indian government of threatening the social media platform with raids if it did not take down content related to the farmers' protest that took place in 2020–2021.

"India, for example, was a country that had many requests around the farmers' protests, around particular journalists that were critical of the government," Dorsey told the hosts of the US YouTube show Breaking Points last year.

"It manifested in ways such as: 'We will shut Twitter down in India,' which is a very large market for us; 'We will raid the homes of your employees,' which they did; 'We will shut down your offices if you don't follow suit,'" he added.

However, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, denied all the allegations, calling Dorsey's claims an "outright lie".

Last year, a report by Rest of the World, a technology publication, said that Twitter removed posts related to a BBC documentary on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the government's request.

It went on to add that a significant portion of requests to block or restrict content on the platform came from countries like India, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. In 2023, India's ranking in the World Press Freedom Index slipped from 140 to 161 out of 180 countries.

The latest reports about the Modi-led government trying to stifle freedom of speech come amid a social media outrage against its heavy-handedness in handling protesting farmers.

Farmers in India have taken to the streets over a list of demands that include a law on the minimum support price for crops and loan waivers.