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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Facebook takes down farmer protest page, restores it later

The removal caused outrage on social media, with people questioning why the page was taken down.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: December 21, 2020 1:57:32 pm
The farmers have been camping at several border points into Delhi for over three weeks. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

A Facebook page, which was set up by farmer organisations’ “IT Cell” to “counter misinformation”, was taken down by Facebook on Sunday for a few hours. According to a statement issued by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, at 7 pm, a Facebook live was being streamed from the page where they were talking about how they had reached 94 lakh people through the page. “The page was unpublished at 7 pm. We had started a live (streaming), telling people that Kisan Ekta Morcha’s Facebook reach was 94 lakh and the page was unpublished. We will address a proper press conference tomorrow with all farm leaders… the page was (later) republished,” the statement said.

The removal caused outrage on social media, with people questioning why the page was taken down.

Facebook, meanwhile, said they regretted the inconvenience but did not say why the page was taken down. “We’ve restored Kisan Ekta Morcha’s FB page and regret the inconvenience caused,” said a Facebook company spokesperson.

The IT Cell comprises over 25 online and 35 ‘offline’ volunteers, and works round the clock, monitoring online discussions and “fake news” about farmer protests. The cell created the handle — Kisan Ekta Morcha — across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, reaching lakhs within days of inception. While most volunteers are from Punjab, some are also from Delhi and most work from home.

It was officially launched at a press conference three days ago in the presence of senior farmer leaders to “relay authentic and official information” about the protests. The members handle individual social media accounts, putting out details about protests through the day, including posters and logos of the day’s events.

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