Thousands across India are angry after the govt ordered social media platform Twitter to get rid of posts critical of its handling of the virus.
A Twitter spokesperson confirmed it had blocked some material from being viewed in India.
The country faces a huge surge in cases, with many of its hospitals facing an oxygen shortage.
One Twitter user accused the government of “finding it easier to take down tweets than ensure oxygen supplies”.
India recorded 352,991 new infections on Monday and 2,812 deaths – the highest single-day spike so far.
‘A humanitarian disaster’
The government made an emergency order to censor the tweets, Twitter revealed on Lumen, a database that keeps track of worldwide government orders around online content.
Twitter didn’t specify which content it had taken down but media reports say it includes a tweet from an official in West Bengal holding Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly responsible for Covid deaths, and from an actor criticizing Mr. Modi for holding political rallies while the virus raged.
Twitter said it reviewed content when it received a “valid legal request” – in this case, the Indian government is said to have cited the Information Technology Act 2000.
“If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of the Twitter Rules, we may withhold access to the content in India only,” the platform said.
An Indian official said the fabric in question was misleading or could spark panic.
“We cannot allow fake news that harms the country,” BJP national spokesperson Gopal Agarwal said.
The crisis was being worsened by fake news, he explained, pointing out that social media content had to be in line with the rule of law.
An official of the Minister of Electronics and IT had earlier told The Hindu newspaper that it was “necessary to take action against those who are misusing social media… for unethical purposes.”
But on social media, many criticized the govt for that specialize in “censorship” while the country was in the midst of a “humanitarian disaster”.