Twitter blocked the account of Amul, an Indian milk brand owned by the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) after it posted an image suggesting the boycott of Chinese products. There has been a military stand-off between the two countries at the border near Eastern Ladakh for a month and has caused many in India to look for alternatives to Chinese products.
The photo in question features the brand’s mascot (Amul girl) gesturing “no” to a dragon who is trying to give her a treat made in China. The image was caption “Exit the dragon” and reminded people the Amul is an Indian brand.
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) June 3, 2020
Since the beginning of the border conflict between the two countries, calls to boycott Chinese products have been doing rounds on social media in India. The image by Amul was echoing those calls or trying to remind people of “Atmanirbhar Bharat,” which is the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of a self-reliant India.
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According to Sodhi, the ad was not a campaign against anyone. “We do not know why the account was blocked as we have not received any official statement from Twitter….Amul has not run any campaign against anybody,” explained Sodhi. “The Amul girl campaign has been on since the last 55 years, and our mascot generally talks about topical subjects, reflecting the mood of the nation in a funny way.”
The account was blocked on June 4 and restored on June 5 after outrage from the public.
“When we learned about this, we asked for clarification. We do not know why this disruption occurred. We have not yet received any official message from Twitter on this,” Sodhi said.
The temporary suspension of the account caused public outrage. Indians took to social media to express their support for Amul and disappointment with Twitter, with many accusing the social platform of bias against India.
When approached for comment, Twitter said that the account was suspended for “safety and security” reasons.
“Safety and security of the accounts is a key priority for us, and to ensure an account has not been compromised, sometimes we require the account owner to complete a simple reCAPTCHA process. These challenges are simple for authentic account owners to solve but difficult (or costly) for spammy or malicious account owners to complete,” read part of the statement.
#Amul has become a trending topic on Indian Twitter, garnering over 70k tweets by Saturday evening.