The official handle of the Vice President of India @VPSecretariat continues to have the blue badge.
Twitter on Saturday briefly removed the blue tick or “verified” badge from the personal handle of Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, in new provocation for the government in an ongoing standoff.
The blue tick was restored after a few hours, reportedly when objections were raised by the Vice President’s office.
The verified status had been removed from @MVenkaiahNaidu for “inactivity”, said a report by news agency ANI. “The personal account of Venkaiah Naidu was inactive for six months and the blue badge has gone,” ANI quoted an official from the Vice President’s office as saying.
The last tweet from the account was on July 23, 2020.
Twitter’s action “unverifying” the account of Mr Naidu, who has been Vice President of India since 2017, is controversial in the middle of its confrontation with the government over a range of issues including its stand on new digital rules for social media sites.
After raising concerns about freedom of expression, Twitter appointed an Indian interim grievance redressal officer, but has yet to name a compliance officer and a nodal officer mandated by the Centre’s rules.
Last month, Twitter’s move to mark as “manipulated media” the posts of BJP leaders on an alleged Congress toolkit drew a sharp response from the government, which sternly asked the site to undo the label, calling it “an overreach and prejudicial”.
The accounts of prominent RSS leaders, Suresh Joshi, Suresh Soni, Krishna Gopal and Arun Kumar, have also lost their “verified” status. The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP.
The blue tick or “verified” mark signifies that an account is “authentic, notable and active”, Twitter explains.
The microblogging site says the account must represent or be associated with a prominently recognized individual or brand. Accounts that are verified include those of key government officials and offices, including heads of state, elected officials, appointed ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, and official spokespeople.
“To qualify, there must be a public reference to the account on an official government or party site or publication, or multiple references in news media,” says Twitter.
According to the site’s terms, the blue tick or verified status may be removed any time, without notice.
“You may lose your badge if you change your account name (@handle), if your account becomes inactive or incomplete, or if you are no longer in the position you initially were verified for – such as an elected government official who leaves office – and you do not otherwise meet our criteria for verification,” says Twitter.