Internet users who tried accessing the profile of Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Milind Deora on social networking site Twitter were in for a surprise on Friday morning. “The profile you are trying to view has been suspended,” an automated message greeted visitors to Deora’s page www.twitter.com/milinddeora.
The news spread like wildfire through Twitter that the minister’s account has been suspended, just a day after he himself had denied that there were any governmental curbs on social media.
On Thursday night, he had tweeted: “Ironically, let me clarify on ‘Twitter’ that there is absolutely no intent of the government to curb freedom of social media platforms.”
His post came in the midst of a firestorm over revelations that the government had asked Internet service providers to block certain URLs and Facebook and Twitter accounts to stop spreading of incendiary rumours and messages in the wake of exodus of northeast people from South Indian cities.
The Prime Minister’s Office had also asked Twitter to delete six ‘fake’ accounts of Prime Minister. As the news of Twitter page spread, Deora (35) told media that his account was being “verified and hence temporarily suspended”. He denied that it was blocked.
Surprisingly, other accounts that went through the so called verification process were never suspended during the process. TMC Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien also chipped in. “No controversy.... Milind Deora’s Twitter account has been sent for verification... should be up again soon, I hear,” he said.
But, the irony was not lost on the twitterati, who gave their own humorous version of events that led to the ‘suspension’ of account. “Ah! I know what happened. Milind Deora sent Twitter a list of people to be banned and signed his name under it,” tweeted Ramesh Srivats, a popular humorist.
The young minister was the only Cabinet member active on Twitter, though he had occasionally expressed frustration at the level of abuse coming his way, mostly from anonymous accounts.
It is speculated that perhaps Twitter had been asked to remove the account of an imposter (@milinddeora), but mistakenly suspended the account of the minister.