Facebook and its involvement in India is in the news again this week, as the company confirms that it mistakenly hid posts that called for the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, featuring the hashtag #ResignModi. The posts were reportedly blocked for three hours and were not made visible to Facebook users in the country, before the social media platform corrected its error.
With Facebook and Twitter complying with requests from the Indian government by blocking posts criticising its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic this week, this latest event does little to dispel the thought that big tech firms are happy to acquiesce when prompted to in large mobile markets.
As for the temporarily blocked posts, those users in the country who wanted to view the posts at the time, were greeted by the below notification, which was shared online via Twitter by @srinivasaiims, questioning why Facebook was doing this.
— Dr. Srinivas MD (@srinivasaiims) April 28, 2021
Since the incident, Facebook has told multiple publications that the temporary block happened “by mistake”, but it is yet to clarify as to how a mistake like this could happen, and whether it was an automated procedure or involved moderators.
Either way, with fears growing that voices in the country are being silenced while India is facing a massive wave of COVID-19 infections, the actions of Facebook are highly concerning.
The company already has a shaky past when it comes to content involving politics, and especially so in Asian countries, as Myanmar can attest. As such, the control that Modi’s ruling BJP party wields has many questioning whether Facebook has full autonomy in the region, particularly as its former policy chief had ties to the organisation.
As we wait to see how #ResignModi plays out, it is up to social media companies to provide a transparent platform where accurate information can be shared freely.
[Image – @srinivasaiims on Twitter]