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Why is Facebook shielding Muslim rapists? Why are they deleting news reports?

Facebook has taken down a story where a 15-year-old Dalit girl was gang-raped and filmed in Kaushambi. About time the social media giant comes clean on its dubious policies and sheds its cloak of neutrality.

A few days ago (September 22, 2019) there was a news about a minor girl gang raped in Kaushambi. When we looked in to the same, some details emerged pointing towards the fact that the girl was from Dalit community and rapists were all Muslims. As is the standard operating procedure of secular media, there was no outrage, humanity didn’t die. Even though the girl belongs to Dalit community, there was no media coverage. She could have got the coverage, had she been a victim of upper caste Hindus. Which she was not.

OpIndia took the story in September 22 and followed it up with two more stories about the accused getting caught. The details were shocking as the culprits, Adil, Najik and their unidentified friend, not only raped the girl, but they went on to make a video. The girl, media reports claim, knew the rapists and begged for mercy in the name of Allah.

It was shared on OpIndia Hindi Facebook page with the headline (see screenshot) that has not a single word that’s offending or manufactured, or fake, or goes against journalistic ethics. These words came from girl’s mouth and the names of rapists are not protected by some law of the land. Then comes Facebook, with its ‘community guidelines’ and deletes the post with the news report.

Kaushambi dalit rape case
OpIndia Hindi news screenshot

The same Facebook hosts several news stories with words ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘she kept begging for mercy in the name of god’, ‘bhagwaan ke liye chhod do’, then how come Facebook gets all this touchy-feely about Muslim names and ‘Allah ki kasam’? This is a clear case of shielding rapists because they belong to a certain religion!

When we tried to talk it out with Facebook, I was told that image might be problematic, even after we blurred the girl. If you see the image, no sane mind would tell that the image of offensive, demeaning or promotes hatred in the name of religion. The face of the rapist is visible (unless of course Facebook finds that insulting somehow), and girl’s dress is yellow. You can’t make out what’s wrong with sharing this image as it is not graphic, nor depicts violence or shows blood etc.

So, the question is: what kind of image should be used to represent these ghastly crimes? Should we always use a girl timidly sitting in the corner of a room? Does that imagery somehow enhances or reduces the ghastliness of such criminal acts? How does that image promote hatred or is disturbing?

A 15 year old kid is being gang raped and this news, not even some opinion piece, the news itself is against Facebook’s community guidelines! At the same time, these companies won’t ever tell you the exact guidelines you have violated. They give you the link and ask you to familiarise yourself with their guidelines so that you don’t commit the mistake again. You can keep searching the link to know which section or subsection you violated and won’t ever reach a conclusion.

Yet, we try to understand things at our own level to figure out why Facebook people are annoyed. After spending good amount of time, you will realise that it’s ok to post condoms over Trishool, show Hindu devi as a prostitute, show male genitalia with Shiva’s tripund, portray Hindu deities in vulgar ways, but if you post a rape news, where culprits are Muslims and your headline has Allah, it gets in to their bottoms. And, boy! They don’t like it.

Hinduphobia and content offending Hindu Dharma is flowing with uncontrolled fluidity on timelines of Facebook. Abusive words for Hindu deities, peeing on Shivlinga, desecration of temples and statues, poster of Bhagwan Hanuman being ripped and beaten by chappals are all fine under Facebook’s community guidelines. They don’t violate any chapter, section, subsection, sentence, phrase, word, thoughts or any part of anything from their community guidelines.

Then you start to think whether their community comprises of some 14th century Islamic attackers and thieves or those creating such biased policies have their DNAs where mocking Hindu deities, their vulgar portrayal is all fine but when you name a Muslim rapist, who makes a video, uploads it, Facebook suddenly gets a burning sensation up its you-know-where.

Whether it’s Facebook, or YouTube, these organisations have always taken shelter of arbitrary ‘community guidelines’. They want news organisations or general public to shield the culprits by the web of words where they are addressed as Ram (name changed) so that one particular community doesn’t feel hurt. But the fact is, any community, Hindu or Muslim, feels hurt because a rapist is named in a report, they should be ashamed of their existence.

So, who does this idiotic act: computers or humans?

When you think about it, look at the sequence of events, you wonder if computers and algorithms are doing the ‘deleting’ part, or are they busy targeting a few organisations or people based on their biases? When we shared it on our Facebook page, we got the message that it violated community guidelines. You can’t even appeal as the button which says ‘see details’ and enables you to appeal, is offline in these cases.

As you would expect, you would like to know what’s the issue. When we mailed Facebook they asked us to appeal and also tried to dictate how we should have formed the headline. I am an editor of this website. Someone who works at Facebook, has zero media experience, tells me how to frame headlines!

Perhaps, they wanted the headline to be like this: Some guys did something to a girl, police is doing something. And, they would expect you to write the report like this: “A 15 year old girl had gone somewhere, three guys Ram, Shyam and Kanhaiya (names changed) took her somewhere and did something bad.” Have you ever seen the ‘names changed’ prefixed with ‘Salim-Rashid-Parwez’? You wouldn’t have, because crimes of Muslims have been covered under ‘from particular community’ and their names ‘changed’ by Hindu names.

It is not about why do we want to write Muslim’s names. It is about the fact that if Hindu naming is very much conventional, and even the burden of Muslim crimes gets hidden under ‘name changed’, purposefully or ignorantly Hindu, why shouldn’t we write Muslim accused’s name? Is it protected by law?

When the story was removed by Facebook, I asked them if the same news was deleted for being on Facebook page, how come it still exists at over 30,000 places on Facebook itself, if it is deleted by algorithms or unbiased humans? Why isn’t all posts deleted? I told them that I shared the same news and it is very much there on my profile. Eight hours later they suspend my account for 24 hours. It means, it’s not automatic. When I gave them the information, they targeted me. As if this was not all, someone reported my tweet on Twitter. However, Twitter said it found no issues with the tweet.

Facebook vs twitter
Twitter said ‘it’s fine’, Facebook says ‘you are suspended’

The question is: Why does Facebook feel its backyard is on fire when Muslims are addressed as criminals in context of a crime? What’s so special about these Muslim culprits that their names should be hidden under Ram (name changed)? Does Facebook approve of Muslim rapists? Does Facebook uses parts of some particular book in its community guidelines where it says raping a kafir is all in good spirits?

If it’s actually as such, then Facebook must declare that their guidelines have descended from the heavens and Zuckerberg received it in some cave of Hawai Islands. And according to those commandments, we will allow Hinduphobic content, vulgar portrayal of Hindu deities, posts demeaning Hindu Dharma as freedom of expression, but reports of Muslims involved in a gang rape, however factual those may be, won’t be allowed as they go against our sacred guidelines.

It is for you to decide what’s going on here. Facebook takes our data, what we like or dislike, our images, posts, the style of our writing, our location, everything we posts is stored on a server. That data is sold to any political party, some food chain, some online shopping company, cosmetics giant, banks or anyone in need and has the money.

So, no one should say what do we pay Facebook. Or the statement that it is a private company, it can make its own policies. Of course, they can keep them at their whim, if they stop stealing and storing data, with or without consent. We are paying them and they ought to protect the rights that is provided by the countries they operate in to.

These companies, with their data machinery indulges in election meddling, suppresses news content from people/organisations that are against their ideology. They shouldn’t be preaching about some arbitrary guidelines, unless they come clean on their biases.

That’s why, Facebook should shed its doublespeak, and tell the world why does it protect Muslim rapists? Facebook should let the world know if posts being shared in Facebook should follow Sharia law? Facebook should speak up if media organisations should post news while facing Mecca and, maybe, offer Namaz while at it? Facebook should let us know if the news being shared on its platform get ‘Halal certification’?

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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अजीत भारती
अजीत भारती
पूर्व सम्पादक (फ़रवरी 2021 तक), ऑपइंडिया हिन्दी

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