Burhan effect: Facebook blocks page of Kashmir magazine, deletes cover of issue
Facebook on Sunday blocked the official page of a local Kashmir weekly and deleted a post of its cover showing slain militant Burhan Wani for not “following community standards”, shocking its editors who demanded immediate restoration of the page.
Kashmir Ink, a sister publication of Valley’s leading English daily Greater Kashmir, had shared the cover of their latest issue which has a sketch of Wani and the headline: “Kashmir: A year after Burhan’s death”.
The unrest in Kashmir since Wani’s killing on July 8 last year has left more than 100 dead and thousands injured, many blinded by pellets.
“The issue, as is evident from the cover, talks about the current situation in Kashmir after a year of an incident which rattled the valley. And whose ripples refuse to ebb still,” said noted political cartoonist Suhail H Naqshbandi, whose sketch of Wani was on the cover.
He said “some ignoramus folks” reported the post to Facebook authorities who decided to censor it.
A message from Facebook said the temporary block will last for 24 hours, and “you won’t be able to post on Facebook until it’s finished”.
“We removed the post below because it doesn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards,” the message said, and warned that those who “repeatedly post things that aren’t allowed on Facebook may have their accounts permanently disabled”.
“This is completely unjustified,” said Majid Maqbool, the Executive Editor of Kashmir Ink, adding that Facebook did not give any prior intimation before taking the extreme step.
He also said that “we had Burhan Wani on our front cover earlier in the year as well, but the official Facebook page was not blocked nor was the cover image removed”.
“Our official page should be restored soon so that our online readers are able to see and access the latest issue,” he demanded.
When Facebook Blocks Pages
Facebook has removed several posts in the past which were supposedly sympathetic to Kashmiri militancy.
In February last year, Facebook pulled down a cartoon by Kashmiri cartoonist Mir Suhail depicting roots growing out of Afzal Guru’s grave in Tihar jail and connecting to roots of a large tree named Kashmir.
Suhail was also barred from posting anything new on his page as Facebook removes “any comments posted by anyone that praise or support terrorist groups or their actions”.
At the peak of last year’s summer unrest in Kashmir, a number of FB users, including noted scholars Dibyesh Anand, of the University of Westminster, and Huma Dar, of the University of California, Berkely, had complained that their posts, mostly related to Wani, have been removed for violating Facebook’s “Community Standards”.
There were many users who also said they were blocked after they put Wani’s photo as profile picture.
In May this year, Baroda-based artist Rollie Mukherjee, known for her paintings depicting the pain of the strife-torn Valley, was blocked by Facebook.
Facebook spokespersons have been repeatedly quoted in media reports as saying that their “Community Standards” prohibit “content that praises or supports terrorists, terrorist organisations or terrorism” and that they “remove it as soon as 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,” a spokesperson was quoted in one media report.
The action came a day after Kashmir authorities banned internet in the region to check any untoward incident on the occasion of Wani’s death anniversary. Broadband and 2G mobile internet services were restored very late on Saturday.
“As a news and events platform, shouldn’t we even talk about something which is affecting our lives on a daily basis?” asked Naqshbandi about the magazine, which is, however, available on the stands in Kashmir.