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Facebook Oversight Board says post critiquing RSS, BJP highlights minority concerns, allows it

Upon its review of the post which included the video, the oversight board says decision to remove it was not in line with Facebook's community standards.

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New Delhi: A November 2020 post on Facebook alleging that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a “new threat” and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has “moved towards extremism” has been deemed as not in violation of the social media platform’s policy, and noted that its removal was “not consistent with the company’s Community Standards or its human rights responsibilities”.

Facebook’s Oversight Board was reviewing the platform’s decision to remove the post after the user who posted the content appealed to it. The post in question featured a video — a 17-minute interview with an expert identified as Professor Manjit Singh — from a Punjabi media portal called Global Punjab TV.

The post had also claimed that the “RSS was threatening to kill Sikhs” and that “Prime Minister Modi himself is formulating the threat of ‘Genocide of the Sikhs’ on advice of the RSS President Mohan Bhagwat”.

The oversight board announced its decision Wednesday, about two months after it said it would be reviewing the post identified by code number 2021-003-FB-UA.

The Facebook Oversight Board, set up by the company last year, acts as an independent body and aims at helping Facebook “answer some of the most difficult questions around freedom of expression online: what to take down, what to leave up and why.”


Also read: Hashtag calling for PM Modi’s resignation blocked ‘by mistake’, says Facebook


‘Deadly saga’ of 1984

The original video, which was later shared on Facebook last year, was a Global Punjab TV interview with Professor Manjit Singh, “a social activist and supporter of the Punjabi culture”, according to board’s announcement.

The Facebook user who shared the video had further added a caption, claiming the “RSS was threatening to kill Sikhs”, according to the oversight board’s description of the post. The user had also claimed RSS wanted a repeat of the “deadly saga” of 1984, when Hindu mobs massacred members of the Sikh community after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

The user also added text that said the Sikhs in India should be on high alert and Sikh regiments in the Army have warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi of their willingness to die to protect the Sikh farmers and their land in Punjab, according to the case description.

Another user had reported the post to Facebook, and a “human reviewer” had decided it violated Facebook’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations Community Standard leading to the post being taken down.

This in turn had automatically restricted the account of the user who shared the video.

At one point, Facebook had told the user that it could not review their appeal of the removal because of a temporary reduction in review capacity due to Covid-19, the board also noted.

Why Facebook’s decision was overturned

After the board had decided to review the case, Facebook restored the content because the original removal was an “error”, the board said.

“Facebook noted that none of the groups or individuals mentioned in the content are designated as ‘dangerous’ under its rules. The company also could not identify the specific words in the post which led to it being removed in error,” said the board as it explained why it overturned the original decision.

While recommending to Facebook to provide its Community Standards in Punjabi, the board added: “The Board noted that the post highlighted the concerns of minority and opposition voices in India that are allegedly being discriminated against by the government. It is particularly important that Facebook takes steps to avoid mistakes which silence such voices.”

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)


Also read: ‘Poisonous echo chambers’ — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube algorithms under scrutiny in US


 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. So called Hindu mobs referred to here in this article as having massacred Sikhs in 1984 had Rajiv Gandhi’s gangsters like H.K.L.Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar, Kamalnath etc leading bloodthirsty, vengeful mobs who wanted a revenge for Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her uniformed and armed Sikh security personnel. It is only after the ascent of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister in 2014 after thirty years that convictions were obtained against the murderers in the Courts in Delhi.

    And till date Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra have not apologised to the Sikh community for the Sikh Genocide even as the late Khushwant Singh had openly lauded the efforts of the RSS in protecting their Sikh brethren from the murderous and rioting Congress foot soldiers led by the satraps under the beneficiary dynasty that ascended to further power at the back of a so called sympathy wave for Rajiv Gandhi on the aforementioned killing of his mother.

    The above are hardcore facts, as the RSS and their ideologues as well as leaders and thinkers are fully aware of the history of the Sikhs and Khalsa way of life that has a legendary contribution and sacrifice to the survival of the ‘dharmic’ way of life of Bharat in the face of Islamists fervour and brutal invasions infested with mass annihilation of the followers of ‘Dharma’ as a way of life of Bharat for thousands of years.

  2. Accusing the sitting PM of plotting “genocide” of a community is shocking.

    Absolutely absurd that a post such as this was “allowed”.

    FB’s role cannot over ride Indian laws, however, imperfect they maybe. It was the system that created and also got rid of section 66A of the IT Act and will course correct even with current set of laws in time. FB or any other non-Indian company cannot be judge, jury and executioner.

  3. Facebook has set a wrong precedent. The post under consideration is clearly false and misleading.
    None of what has been claimed in the post passes the test of factual and data based scrutiny.
    Rather, the aim seems to be to pit the Sikh community against Hindus.

  4. these companies ban Trump, while giving free pass to others. who decides what is correct and what is incorrect ? just politics by so called liberal media

Comments are closed.

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