Facebook claims to be neutral as far as community standards are concerned. But it seems to be selectively ignorant to the requests of right-wing figures while going soft on the leftist narratives on its social media platform. Worse still, it doesn’t consider an instance of a distortion and manipulation as violation of its community standards.
This was highlighted when it refused to pull down a post by a page called ‘Voice of South India’ that shared a distorted tweet of Shefali Vaidya, a columnist and a popular right wing blogger. Her original tweet, which was distorted by the said Facebook page, had made a sarcastic remark targeting people who blame RSS of indulging in criminal acts without proof:
The above original tweet was juxtaposed with an unrelated tweet to present a completely false picture, and the same distorted image was shared by the page:
Shefali Vaidya though has been a regular target. Her profile was once blocked when she shared a donation appeal to Civil Liberties group. She has also been targetted by the Congress IT Cell and other anonymous trolls.
In the current case, though it is a misleading post that can potentially create social disharmony, Facebook refused to pull down the page. In its response it said “though it doesn’t go against one of our specific community standards, we understand that it may still be offensive to you and others.’
Abhinav Agarwal, who had reported the violation by the page, expressed his shock for Facebook tolerating fake news on its platform:
Way to go @facebook, and so much for your commitment to stamping out #FakeNews
This photoshopped, fake – that I reported – post does NOT violate Facebook’s “Community Standards.” pic.twitter.com/D6CObnfWgt
— Abhinav Agarwal (@AbhinavAgarwal) January 24, 2018
Fake news carrying photo-shopped images can wreak havoc as it has wide public reach. These shocking episodes highlight the need for better community standards policy and monitoring on Facebook in future.
While Facebook did not act, the concerned page later “apologized” to Vaidya for posting a “photoshopped/fake image” after the incident drew flak on social media. However they have not deleted the post, and claim that Facebook is not allowing them to delete:
Whether or not this is a sincere apology, the damage was already done. The fake image has gone viral already and tarnished the image of Vaidya.