On Wednesday, April 28, Facebook temporarily disabled the Resign Modi hashtag, censoring over 12,000 posts critical of the BJP-led government's handling of Covid-19, reported The Guardian. On Twitter, images of crematoriums, lined-up ambulances, critical patients gasping for breath had been trending on social media platforms and were juxtaposed with images of government officials holding rallies. The #resignmodi was blocked, and a note appeared stating that certain posts had been "temporarily hidden here" because their content violated the website's Community Standards, observed by the netizens and Twitterati's.
Facebook continues its censorship in India, this time suspending a hashtag #ResignModi calling for @narendramodi to resign because of his incompetence in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in unimaginable deaths.— Usama Khilji (@UsamaKhilji) April 28, 2021
Facebook is complicit in Modi's fascism. https://t.co/k6br2PeKob
After Facebook's Andy Stone discussed the problem on Twitter, the hashtag was made available on Facebook around 12.50 P.M PST. Facebook later responded that "We temporarily blocked this hashtag by mistake, not because the Indian government asked us to, and have since restored it."
Here's more on what happened today: We temporarily blocked this hashtag by mistake, not because the Indian government asked us to, and have since restored it.— Andy Stone (@andymstone) April 29, 2021
Censorship Continues Unabated
Over the last month, Twitter had deleted or limited links to COVID-related tweets. In India, the social media giant was forced to permanently suspend over 500 accounts and block access to hundreds earlier this year in order to comply with a government order to prevent the dissemination of misinformation and divisive material linked to farmer protests. According to the firm, it checks all legitimate legal requests received in accordance with the company's guidelines and local laws.
Following that, Congressman Pawan Khera issued a legal notice, calling the censorship a breach of the constitutional right to free expression and urging Twitter not to be forced to remove such posts on government orders.
My legal notice to @rsprasad @OfficeOfRSP & @Twitter for pulling down of my tweet exposing double standards on #KumbhMela & #tablighijamaat— Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) April 25, 2021
श्री रवि शंकर प्रसाद एवं ट्विटर को मेरे कुम्भ मेला व तबलिग़ी जमात पर दोहरे मापदंड पर किए ट्वीट हटाने को चुनौती देते हुए क़ानूनी नोटिस pic.twitter.com/VKLu3wBcr6
Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook's former public policy in India, South Asia, and Central Asia had allegedly refused to enforce hate speech policies for politicians from the ruling party at her request, fearing that it would damage the company's business prospects. Ankhi Das, the employee, resigned after the controversy grew.