Facebook clips wings of ‘Indian Atheists’ page

While the page hasn’t been blocked, users allege they are unable to share images or videos or tag the page on their walls since Thursday.

Updated - June 07, 2015 10:37 am IST

Published - June 07, 2015 12:00 am IST - CHENNAI:

A Facebook page named ‘Indian Atheists’, which has close to ‘28,000 likes’, has been marked as ‘unsafe’ by Facebook and its operations restricted.

While the page hasn’t been blocked, users allege they are unable to share images or videos or tag the page on their walls since Thursday. “We have organically built our audience over the years using content directly shared by us. These restrictions affect us,” says Soorya Sriram, one of the administrators of the page.

Whenever one tries to share images or content from the page, Facebook users get a notification saying: ‘The content you're trying to share includes a link that our security systems detected to be unsafe.’

“Usually, Facebook intimates the administrators of the page when restrictions are placed. What has happened now is unusual,” says Soorya.

The page, set up four years ago, has been managed by members belonging to Nirmukta, an online advocacy group which claims to promote science, free thought, secular humanism in India.

The administrators say restrictions have been placed at a time when they have been critical of the de-recognition of Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle at IIT Madras and the manner in which the institution has invited religious leaders to peddle pseudo-science inside the IIT campus.

While Facebook prohibits ‘hate speech’ as per its ‘community standard’, the administrators of the page reject the notion that it had indulged in any sort of hate propaganda.

“We have been vocal about de-recognition of the APSC in IIT Madras and invitation given by IIT Madras to various pontiffs. We have also focussed mainly on current issues, including the Maggi controversy, India’s energy problems and how Bengali writer Taslima Nasreen had left the country for U.S. after being threatened by Islamic extremists. We have desisted from speaking about religion,” an administrator said.

The online group Nirmukta has several active freethinkers groups in major metropolitan and other cities where its members meet regularly to discuss social issues.

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