Under Elon Musk, Twitter has approved 83% of censorship requests by authoritarian governments

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Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter in a tumultuous $44 billion deal completed last October, the social network has turned down very few requests for content restriction or censorship from countries like Turkey and India, which have recently passed laws limiting freedom of speech and the press. Although the billionaire owner of SpaceX and Tesla presents himself as a free speech absolutist, the social network he controls has bowed to hundreds of government orders during his first six months at the helm, according to data provided by the company to a public audit that tracks pressure from governments or judges on online platforms. The most recent example was the blocking of accounts critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, two days before the elections held in Turkey last Sunday.

In India, which is immersed in an autocratic drift that for months has been choking the media, journalists and critical voices, Twitter has also seconded government bans. To justify the consent, Musk said: “The rules in India for what can appear on social media are quite strict, and we can’t go beyond the laws of a country,” and in doing so put his staff at risk, he added. “If we have a choice of either our people going to prison or us complying with the laws, we will comply with the laws.” This justification came after Twitter removed content related to a BBC documentary that was highly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was blocked in January by the Indian government.