Facebook censures poet Satchidanandan over posts criticising BJP
Well known poet and former secretary of the Kendra Sahitya Akademi, K Satchidanandan claims he has been temporarily blocked by Facebook, which held his comments on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders to be “abusive” in nature.
The writer on Saturday said he has been barred from posting, liking, commenting and sharing posts for 24 hours apart from using the ‘live’ option for 30 days. He says the social media giant told him he had breached the company’s “community standards”.
“I did not post anything abusive as pointed out by the social media giant. I received a message on WhatsApp that showed Adolf Hitler scolding his Nazi followers in his finals days and the audio accompanied it suggested that BJP leader Amit Shah was pulling up party leaders in Kerala in Malayalam over the party’s poor performance in assembly elections,” he said, without explaining if he used the meme with the reference to the Nazi leader to criticise the BJP in his FB post deemed objectionable.
The BJP lost its lone assembly seat in Kerala in the recently concluded assembly elections and its vote share dipped by 3% despite aggressive campaigning.
Satchidanandan said FB had warned him earlier too for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “This is nothing but a suppression of freedom of expression. It seems the government has increased its surveillance over social media to remove posts critical of it. It is an encroachment on freedom of expression,” he said.
Facebook’s community standards refer to a set of guidelines defining what is and is not allowed on Facebook. It says its policies are based on feedback from their communities and the advice of experts in fields such as technology, public safety and human rights. FB’s community standard policy claims it encourages people to talk openly about the issues that matter to them, even if some may disagree or find them objectionable unless it qualifies as hate speech or some other offenses listed in its policy.
Satchidanandan said he was first intimated on the night of May 7 that the restrictions on his account will stay for 24-hours, followed by another message next day that he can’t post, share or comment on anything for 24 hours. Later, he was told he can’t make any live presentation for 30 days.
“It seems there is a feeling in the government that more and more people are turning against it. It is obvious from the recent polls. I may face many such restrictions but I can’t be silenced like this,” he said in Thrissur.
BJP spokesman Sandip Warrier ruled out the party’s role in the episode and hit out at the alleged double standards of the government’s critics.
“We have nothing to do with it. When Donald Trump and actor Kangana Ranaut’s accounts were suspended, these forces hailed it. There can’t be two standards; so no point in shedding crocodile tears. FB must have taken action as per its policy standard,” said party spokesman Sandip Warrier.
Many have expressed solidarity with the writer and slammed Facebook. “It is the most deplorable act. We all stand with Satchidanandan,” tweeted former state finance minister T M Thomas Iassac. “In a democratic country like India, it should not have happened. It is an attack on [freedom of] speech and expression,” said CPI(M) leader M V Jayarajan.