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Is India Trying to Suppress Military Analysts on Twitter?

David Axe

David Axe

Security,

We looked over the evidence. You decide. 

Is India Trying to Suppress Military Analysts on Twitter?

Following complaints from Indian users and the nationalist government of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, Twitter in mid-June 2019 suspended several users who had tracked Indian and Pakistani military activities using public information.

The suspensions targeting the so-called “open-source intelligence,” or OSINT, community raises serious questions about Twitter’s commitment to fairness, facts and intellectual freedom. Equally troubling is the Indian government’s apparent influence on a social-media platform with millions of users all over the world.

The accounts Twitter targeted all had one thing in common. They questioned the Indian government’s claims in the aftermath of the brief but intensive aerial clash between Indian and Pakistani warplanes over Kashmir in February 2019.

The battle began when Indian planes on Feb. 26, 2019 attempted to bomb an alleged Pakistani training camp outside Balakot, near the border with Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan claim the mountainous region. Military skirmishes and militant violence are frequent in Kashmir. 

At least one Indian warplane, a MiG-21, was destroyed. Pakistani troops briefly held the pilot before repatriating him. New Delhi claimed its own forces shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter, but provided no evidence.

OSINT accounts closely followed the fighting and challenged claims from Indian and Pakistani sources. Open-source intelligence practitioners usually rely on a mix of news reports, social media, commercial satellite imagery and public ship- and flight-tracking software to keep tabs on military operations.

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