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Facebook temporarily blocks posts with hashtag #ResignModi, claims later it was a ‘mistake’

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Social media giant Facebook on Wednesday temporarily blocked posts with a hashtag calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Facebook later said these posts were temporarily blocked due to a mistake and were not taken down on government orders. The posts, which were blocked for a couple of hours, were restored.

The blocking comes a couple of days after the Indian government had asked social media platforms to take down around 100 posts which it said were aimed at creating panic about the COVID-19 situation by “using unrelated, communally sensitive posts and misinformation”.

Following this, microblogging website Twitter had removed over 50 posts from its platform. A majority of these tweets were critical of the Centre’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic And had content related to shortage of medicines, beds, mass cremations, and the gathering of crowds at Kumbh Mela amid the pandemic.

As per the UK newspaper The Guardian, Facebook’s temporary block led to hiding of about 12,000 posts highlighting the plight of patients and families dealing with the pandemic amid shortage of beds and medicines.

A Facebook spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement, “We temporarily blocked this hashtag by mistake, not because the Indian government asked us to, and have since restored it.” The company did not give more details.

“Govt has not issued any direction to remove this hashtag. Facebook has also clarified that it was removed by mistake,” the Ministry of Electronics and IT said in a tweet.

Last year, the U.S.-headquartered firm faced flak over its alleged bias towards the Narendra Modi-led government and violation of its own hate speech policy in India. The controversy was reported by The Wall Street Journal alleging that the company violated its own rules for hate-speech in favour of some individuals, including those associated with the ruling BJP, as punishing violations by politicians from the ruling party “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 4:43:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/facebook-temporarily-blocks-posts-with-hashtag-resignmodi/article34436585.ece

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