By M Ghazali Khan
What options do ordinary individuals and small groups have to make a giant like Facebook pay attention to complaints about its arbitrary censorship? At the moment, it seems, there is no law anywhere in the world that can stop it from doing so.
I have been running a small and non-profitable website Urdu Media Monitor since 2013. The site explains under About Us, “Urdu Media Monitor (UMM) is a humble attempt aimed at making accessible to non-Urdu readers, by translating into English, selected articles, editorials and news items published in major Indian and Pakistani press and social media.
“Depending on the contents and quality of articles, we will also translate and produce useful and educational write-ups on past events and personalities that have been deliberately and mischievously dumped and buried in the archives only to be occasionally remembered in the Urdu press.”
Never has anything been posted on UMM against any community that would violate Facebook’s community standards. Yet Facebook found some or all—they do not and are not obliged to give the reasons— of the articles posted on UMM offensive and abusive enough to ban a small website and remove all the stories from Facebook.
There is not a single item on the whole of UMM against any community anywhere in the world. But it seems Facebook’s high-powered staff do not take action on the basis of their set rules and standards but complaints by well-organised and well-funded groups lobbies like the Zionists and their Hindutva friends in India. Perhaps the story that has made Facebook take such a report is UMM’s report entitled, “Is the Zionist Media Agency Snooping Around Islamic Centres?”.
I have written to Facebook using its “Feedback” option requesting them to review their decision but neither has the ban been lifted nor have I been told which of the story posted on the site is violating their standards.
This is really sad that in a world that has been turned into a global world village by the internet, a powerful social media network giant has been allowed to act as a law into itself. I am sure I am not the only one to have been affected by Facebook’s arbitrary censorship. There must be thousands of others whom Facebook has tried to silence and has deprived them of their right to freedom of expression. Is it not a high time that the functioning and arbitrary and unfair bans by of an international social media platform like the Facebook are monitored and regulated by the UN?
Examples of Facebook obliging Hindutva agents
Journalist Pratic Sinha writes: “Was blocked by Facebook for the past 24 hours because bhakts reported this cover image on TruthOfGujarat and I being the admin was blocked too. Apparently, Bhakts are as disgusted with their history as the rest of us are.
“And dear folks at Facebook, if documented history is against Facebook community standards, then what should we talk about here? Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool? Probably time that you uphold your so-called commitment towards freedom of expression and in the process chuck some chaddis from Facebook India?”
Activist and journalist Divyendu Verma informs: “Rajiv Tyagi has been blocked by Facebook for a month. This is his second one month ban in recent times. Both bans have been for the most frivolous reasons. This time he’s been banned for copy-pasting the following post of Vinod Chand on to his timeline.(https://www.facebook.com/vinod.k.chand/posts/10211543619690164)
“The perennially butt-hurt bhakts probably mass reported the post and Facebook banned him based on their ‘community standards’, an act which as usual defies all logic.”
Journalist Asad Ashraf says: “Our friend Syed Hassan Kazim [a journalist] has been blocked by Facebook for sharing this story on drought. According to Facebook, this promotes hate. Ugly side of Facebook’s neutrality.”
Mr Kazim had shared a story entitled “Over half of India faces draught-lie condition” with a comment that read: “So what! Don’t worry at all, showing Muslims their real place in the Indian nation, New india, should be your foremost priority, it should be your religious duty. Kill them, lynch them, get the hell out of them even if it means a half of country’s population perishing because of theirst and hunger. Jai Shri Ram!”
For more of Facebook’s mindboggling bans click these: