New Delhi: Social media giant Facebook has banned BJP legislator T. Raja Singh, but will not be barring discussions or posts about the controversial Telangana leader, ThePrint has learnt.
Singh, who routinely posts provocative content, was among the central figures named in an August Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report that claimed Facebook had refrained from acting against hate speech by the MLA and three other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups” to protect its business interests in India, its biggest market.
The WSJ report had quoted a Facebook spokesperson as saying at the time that a senior executive had raised “concerns about the political fallout”, but her opposition wasn’t “the sole factor in the company’s decision to let Mr. Singh remain on the platform”. The company, the spokesperson had said, “is still considering whether a ban is warranted”.
In an email statement issued Thursday, Facebook said it has banned Singh. “We have banned Raja Singh from Facebook for violating our policy prohibiting those that promote or engage in violence and hate from having a presence on our platform. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove his account.”
A source close to Facebook said Singh has been named under its “dangerous individuals and organisations policy”, a designation that entails a ban on using Facebook platforms, Facebook and Instagram, and has earlier been extended to white supremacists in the US.
Pages, groups and accounts set up to represent him will also be removed, and so will “Facebook events when we know the individual is participating”, the source said. However, the source added, the social media firm will continue to allow “wider discussion of him, including praise & support”.
Facebook’s statement comes a day after its India head Ajit Mohan was summoned by the parliamentary standing committee on information technology for questioning on the social media giant’s alleged bias towards political parties in India. Facebook is said to have denied all allegations and claimed it’s politically neutral.
Pages dedicated to Singh still active
One Instagram page, however, did say it is “not available”.
Talking about Facebook’s decision to allow discussions on Singh, the source said, “Individuals who have done things such as repeatedly violated our hate speech policies and associate with previously designated hate figures, but have stopped short of formally affiliating themselves with a hate group or directly call for violence, we ban these individuals from having a presence but not restrict the speech of other people who might praise them for any reason at all.”
Singh’s inflammatory comments include calling for Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to be shot and reportedly threatening to behead those who oppose the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, but he is unapologetic about his conduct.
Asked about the Facebook controversy, he told ThePrint last month, “I have only expressed my views. Why should I apologise? I have the right to my opinion.”
This is an updated version of the report
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