The Facebook and Instagram accounts used by the farmers protesting against the centre's contentious farm laws were blocked on Sunday, December 20, after a live broadcast, the protesters alleged. The pages were restored nearly three hours later after widespread outrage.
Managers of Kisan Ekta Morcha claimed that their page was taken down by Facebook which claimed that "it went against its community standards on spam."
An image shared by the group on Twitter showed that the Facebook page had been unpublished because Kisan Ekta Morcha was against Facebook's "community standards on spam", NDTV reported.
The farmers said that their page on Instagram was also removed and was not being permitted to share new posts.
Facebook, however, has said they "regretted the inconvenience" but has not mentioned any reason as to why the page was removed. "We've restored Kisan Ekta Morcha's FB page and regret the inconvenience caused," a company spokesperson said.
This comes at a time when Facebook, which also owns Instagram, is already under the scanner for allegedly favouring the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the government to protect its business interests. On December 14, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook did not ban Bajrang Dal from its platform due to business considerations.
According to the farmer groups, the restrictions came after a live broadcast by Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav, one of the leaders of the protest, announced an indefinite hunger strike starting Monday, December 21.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting in and around the national capital for over three weeks, demanding the withdrawal of the contentious farm laws, which they feel will leave them at the mercy of big corporates.
The incident triggered sparked massive outrage on Twitter.
"As an immediate ask and at the very least Facebook is expected to issue a detailed statement on how and why was the page of Kisan Ekta Manch unpublished," the Internet Freedom Foundation tweeted.