West Bengal saw the return of Mamata Banerjee as their undisputed leader and she won a thumping majority in the elections that took place in 2021. After TMC and Mamata Banerjee came to power, the violence that has been unleashed on those who supported the BJP in the run-up to the elections has been bone-chilling, to say the least. While the violence in Bengal should be a story everyone knows and talks about, Facebook is now actively suppressing information about the post-poll violence in West Bengal.
Neha, who is a Mumbai based lawyer and has been regularly raising her voice on social media for various causes woke up today to realise that Facebook had restricted her account for 30 days because she shared a news report that detailed the rape and torture of women in West Bengal after Mamata Banerjee came back to power.
I shared this article on Facebook and Facebook restricted my account for 30 days. So much for freedom of speech and expression. The reason is mind boggling though. Apparently I’m promoting sexual exploitation. https://t.co/z3vUWWtFaT pic.twitter.com/9DJ6XFRy0L— NT woke (@NehaT_) June 22, 2021
Taking to Twitter, Neha informed that Facebook had locked her account for 30 days after she shared the news report and the reason given was rather strange as well. While the Organiser news report shared by Neha detailed the violence that was being unleashed on women who had supported the BJP in Bengal, Facebook decided that Neha’s post sharing that article “promoted sexual exploitation”.
“I shared this article on Facebook and Facebook restricted my account for 30 days. So much for freedom of speech and expression. The reason is mind-boggling though. Apparently I’m promoting sexual exploitation”, Neha wrote.
It was 10:07 AM today that Neha got a notification from Facebook that her post violated community standards and her account had, therefore, been locked for 30 days.
Speaker to OpIndia, Neha said, “I have appealed against this decision of Facebook. It is preposterous that they are censoring news articles that highlight the plight of women and vulnerable sections in West Bengal”.
“As per the IT Rules, 2021, Facebook is required to acknowledge my appeal within 24 hours and dispose of it off within 15 days. If they employ delaying tactics or if they continue to censor this news article, the issue has to be escalated to the Grievance Officer, as mandated by the Rules. I will pursue this case and apprise the authorities about Facebook’s willingness to comply with Indian laws,” she further said.
This is, however, not the first time that Facebook has censored news about West Bengal and the atrocities being met out to women and the vulnerable BJP workers in the state.
Not too long ago, an OpIndia article that was shared on Facebook was also censored. The article spoke about a BJP worker who was mysteriously found hanging from a tree and suspected to have been murdered by TMC goons.
Once Facebook took the decision that the post went against their “community guidelines”, Facebook restricted the reach of our page itself and removed the post as well.
Why did Facebook remove a post that reported the death of a BJP worker who was found hanging from a tree? Why did Facebook think this post went against their community guidelines? Because they thought that the image of the article “promoted and glorified violence”. It did not. It was as a representational image that was used.. not the image of the actual victim and the actual crime. It had no face. It did not celebrate violence. It reported violence.
After a constant back and forth, all we got was a link by Facebook that contained the arbitrary guidelines to begin with.
Facebook displayed exemplary nonchalance and continued to assert that this post went against their guidelines and deserved to be censored and thus, the news of BJP workers being killed in Bengal was suppressed.
With Neha’s post being censored and her account being locked as well, it becomes evident that Facebook is perhaps actively trying to suppress the news of post-poll violence in Bengal, unleashed by TMC goons as a punishment to those who dared to support, work for or contest from the BJP, that emerged as the prime contender to the throne.