In Kashmir, Facebook faces criticism for blocking profiles, removing posts

Facebook says community standards prohibits content that praises or supports terrorists, terrorist organisations or terrorism

Written by Sofi Ahsan | Srinagar | Updated: July 19, 2016 10:56 pm
Kashmir, Kashmir unrest, facebook censorship, kashmir censorship, kashmir militants, burhan wani, kashmir terrorism, islamic terror kashmir, kashmir human rights violation, kashmir freedom of speech Paramilitary soldiers walk back towards their base camp on the ninth straight day of curfew in Srinagar, Kashmir, Sunday, July 17, 2016.  (Source: AP Photo)

Amid information clampdown in Kashmir, Facebook has faced allegations of censorship in Kashmir as users have reported removal of their content and alleged the social network has disabled their accounts for posting “pro-Kashmir” updates and photos.

A number of users including a local English daily posted screenshots of the Facebook messages informing the netizens their posts have been removed for violating Facebook’s “Community Standards.” Users keeping militant Burhan Wani’s photos as profile pictures also complained the social media website had taken down the pictures.

A video of Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Geelani’s arrest by the police last Wednesday posted by a local daily Kashmir Monitor was removed for violation. “The day after we uploaded the video a message was received the video has been removed. It was surprising because this has never happened before,” said Mubashir Bukhari, a journalist with the paper.

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Dibyesh Anand, a professor in International Relations at University of Westminster said he was blocked from posting on Facebook last week and after he complained he was told the post was accidentally removed by a member of their team. “Facebook deleted a perfectly polite post for “violating Facebook community standards” and blocked me from posting for 24 hours. My hypothesis is that it is highly unprofessional “super patriotic” Indians working in Facebook who are responsible,” Anand wrote on his profile.

Facebook also disabled the account of Huma Dar,a lecturer at University of California, Berkely for her pro-Burhan posts. “Facebook censors news from besieged #Kashmir, takes down articles & pictures, and disables accounts! #BurhanWani,” Dar posted.

A Kashmir-based satire page Jajeer Talkies with 27500 plus likes was also blocked on July 13 and later restored albeit without any content. “The accounts of all 3 admins were also disabled, giving us no chance whatsoever to appeal or respond to this deletion,” a petition, put up the owners on change.org asking for full restoration of the page, reads.

An email query regarding the “censorship” sent to Facebook went unanswered.

Facebook has faced criticism for removing the user content. “The way Facebook has been taking down some posts related to Kashmir and even blocking certain accounts, it seems Mark Zukerberg has taken over as the Thanedar (SHO) of some police station in Kashmir,” Tariq Jameel, a user posted.

Authorities in Valley have suspended the mobile services including internet and banned newspaper publication in Kashmir. BSNL broadband is the only internet service working in Valley.

UPDATE 

Responding to the story, a Facebook spokesperson said: “Our Community Standards prohibit content that praises or supports terrorists, terrorist organisations or terrorism, and we remove it as soon as we’re made aware of it. We welcome discussion on these subjects, but any terrorist content has to be clearly put in a context which condemns these organisations or their violent activities.”

The story has been updated to include a quote from Facebook.

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