Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Social media activists share stories on how their pro-BJP content was censored by Facebook even as some accuse Facebook of being ‘pro-BJP’

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— Consider reading the article Social media activists share stories on how their pro-BJP content was censored by Facebook even as some accuse Facebook of being ‘pro-BJP’ on OpIndia website —

A much hyped-up propaganda has been launched with the intention of portraying Facebook as ‘pro-BJP’. While the allegations appear hilarious on the face of it, liberals appear to have lost all sense of reality and proportion and embarked upon an ‘Uninstall Facebook’ drive. The latest spell of delusion began after propagandists at the Wall Street Journal published a report alleging, without any real evidence, that Facebook was unfairly favouring the BJP.

The allegations are particularly ridiculous because Facebook, like almost all other social media platforms, is known to silence ‘right-wing’ or ‘conservative’ voices on social media. The ‘Community Standards’ section on ‘Hate Speech’ offers sufficient indication of the Left-wing bias built into the platform.

Facebook clubs ‘gender identity’, a term engraved deeply in left-wing political ideology, with very real concepts such as race, ethnicity, religious identity and other such identities. Thus, if a user is vocal against the concept that a man can be a woman if he merely claims to be one, then the user can be accused of having trafficked in ‘Hate Speech’ and his account could be suspended. We are expected to believe that such an organisation has suddenly discovered fondness for a Hindutvavadi party.

Facebook Rules on Hate Speech

There is also other very real evidence that the Facebook is not favourably disposed towards the BJP. It is known that prior to the General Elections in 2019, the tech giant engaged in a campaign against popular pages supportive of the BJP and suspended them from Facebook without any clear reason at all.

For instance, in April 2019, Facebook had announced that it had taken down 687 pages linked to the Indian National Congress for suspicious activity. “When we remove one of these networks, the reason we remove them is because of their coordinated inauthentic behaviour, that they are using network of fake accounts to conceal their identity….to mislead who’s behind them. That’s the basic reason for removal,” Head of its Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher told the media.

What escaped notice was the fact that numerous pages supportive of the BJP were also taken down, without any good reason, and the popularity of almost every single one of these pages far exceeded that of the cumulative reach of the Congress pages put together. One of the pages that suffered the axe was The Chaupal page which currently has close to 10.8 million ‘likes’ on Facebook.

The monetisation of the page was suddenly rescinded on the 22nd of March, as per the admins of The Chaupal and they were told that it will be restored in 90 days. However, it was not restored even after 120 days had passed. Now, The Chaupal has a verified ‘blue tick’ on Facebook. It was suspected even then by the page that they suspect they were targeted because of their ‘right-wing’ political inclinations.

On the 1st of April, 2019, Facebook pages with a cumulative ‘likes’ of around 150 million were removed. “We page owners have no say after our pages are penalised. We are subjected to automated mails with no positive outcome,” they complained. They also complained that they could not add new administrators and editors to their pages.

Speaking to OpIndia, Vikas Pandey, social media influencer and administrator of various popular Facebook pages said that although numerous Congress pages were deleted and their umber was greater in absolute numbers, the cumulative ‘likes’ on them was far lesser than the BJP pages that were removed. We were told that the reason that was provided was that a Facebook administrator or editor on the page had a ‘fake profile’, he said.

“Facebook claimed that some pages were removed because one of the IDs of the admins was ‘fake’. Many people use more than one accounts and it is very normal to protect one’s identity. Such accounts were deleted arbitrarily. All this happened right before elections in April 2019.” he said.

We were told that it is a very common practice for admins of pages to create alternative profiles for their Facebook pages. Sometimes, these profiles have names that are similar to the name of the page itself or have the same names as other administrator accounts. BJP-supporting Facebook pages were removed on the basis of such silly reason.

A popular Facebook page, The Frustrated Indian, suffered similar action after they shared from a syndicated news feed. ‘Independent fact-checker’ Boom Live marked one of their articles as ‘fake’. Interestingly, it was a post that was from news agency IANS. When the administrator tried to reach out to Facebook to resolve the issue, he could not get through to him.

Similarly, another Facebook page ‘Nation Wants NaMo’ was deleted abruptly just ahead of elections. The page admin, speaking to OpIndia said that there was no ‘strike’, a warning, before Facebook deleted their page. “It was targeted to be deleted,” the former page admin said.

Another such Facebook account which is regularly targeted is ‘Political Kida’. Ankur Singh, admin of Political Kida, while speaking to OpIndia said how Facebook policies are still unclear and used arbitrarily to silence their pages. “They say that their memes and jokes are fact-checked and reported to be fake, videos that target the Congress party are removed before they go viral. The pages are selectively removed without any intimation and information and when an appeal is made, they are met with an automated response without any further response,” he said.

Numerous such Facebook pages with great reach such as ‘Doval Fan Club’, ‘I Support Ajit Doval’, ‘I Support Zee News’ with ‘likes’ of 4.1 million, 1.8 million, 2.2 million respectively were censored by Facebook as well. There are a lot of other Facebook pages supportive of the BJP that suffered the same fate.

Under such circumstances, it is utterly preposterous to claim that the social media platform is somehow unfairly favouring the BJP. If anything, it is deliberately engaging in malpractice against the party and engaging in electoral malpractice. The current ‘liberal’ rage against Facebook appears to be motivated by Facebook not bending to their will as absolutely as they so desire. Facebook, for its part, has rubbished such allegations.

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