Multiple, Daily instances of hateful Content, FB fails to take stringent action: Analysis

Written by Bhumika Jain | Published on: June 20, 2019
Facebook India has lately come under the scanner for being a breeding ground of hate speech and fake news. To revalidate this, a team conducted an analysis of multiple Facebook pages and profiles and found out that the social media giant is constantly being used as a propaganda tool, especially by Hindutva supremacists. It is essential to note that this analysis just forms the tip of the iceberg and there is a mammoth of such hateful content being circulated on a daily basis! CJP has been consistently monitoring hate on social media and also complaining to relevant authorities.


Illustration by Brayan Perry/CNN

The analysis was conducted keeping in mind the long-term impact of such hate on communities and a diverse Indian polity. Equity and non-discrimination norms are also upset through such widespread hate messaging. This is concerning especially due to the growing Indian market for Facebook with almost 300 million active users and a potential to grow by 400%.

CJP has been constantly fighting and monitoring hate on Facebook. Last year, CJP approached the NHRC and Facebook to report the hateful content posted by Hindutva activist Deepak Sharma that got his account banned.

Deepak Sharma, a Hindutva activist, who better calls himself as a “motivational speaker” speaks a communally charged language and is the founder of Rashtriya Swabhiman Dal (RSD), an organisation that works to protect the interests of Hindu dharma as well as the nation. Notably, during the election, he was seen campaigning in West Bengal and mobilizing the public through his hate speeches. Earlier, he had posted a video asking to behead non-believers and wishing for more Godhra like incidents. He even explicitly talks about his hatred for Muslims and the urgent need to persecute them. Three main pages run by Deepak Sharma are: ‘Bhagva Hind’, Deepak Sharma and ‘Deepak Sharma- Ek Vichardhara.’ Each of these pages are followed by more than 10,000 people and are replete with hateful content.

Another ‘public figure’ named Nitesh Mishra is followed by more than 25,000 people and describes himself as ‘a person committed to the Hindu religion and society’ on his Facebook page. A year back he went live on Facebook where he is seen with his group of acolytes chanting ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ in the middle of the road thereby obstructing traffic and captioned the video as ‘if Muslims can block the roads for their Namaz then even we will do the same by chanting Hanuman Chalisa.’ This communal video received  4.9 million views and 49,351 shares. On June 11, he posted another message relating to the Aligarh rape case. The message read, “Allah has permitted the Muslims to rape their own daughters and sisters, what will then be their thoughts towards non-Muslims? Islam is not a religion but merely a group of rapists born out of rape.”

A Hindutva activist and national president of ‘Sudarshan Vahini,’ Vinod Sharma, has almost 20,000 followers and keeps on posting anti-Muslim messages and videos. Notably, his cover picture is that of Savarkar! A week ago he went live on Facebook to talk about the Aligarh rape case where he made certain really shocking statements and revelations. He attacked Modi for his appeasement politics and told that the time Modi pleaded for protection of minorities, “these people did their work by raping 15 girls and murdering 25.” He even revealed that whatever money they received as charity, they used for campaigning for Modi and even convinced 650 workers from other parties to vote for Modi.

A Jain saint named Aacharya Shree SurySagarji Gurudev is a staunch Modi supporter and campaigner for Hindu Rashtra. Contrary to the principles of Jainism, which is committed to non-violence, this particular saint is highly active on Facebook with his communal content. On June 7, he went live where we appealed to his followers to become Nathuram Godse and then promised to convert Hindustan to ‘Hindu Rashtra’ with the help of many such Godse. He further says “If you want a Hindu Rashtra, then support Modi as he is the only one who is capable to do this.” He even abused the Muslims and their Maulanas.
Aryan Sinha, whose friend list is filled with Hindutva pages and profiles, is no less than an instigator. Just to give a glimpse of his ideological leaning, on June 12, he posted a message on the Kathua rape judgement stating how a Hindu Brahmin family was falsely being implicated in the case.

Raja Singh, an MLA from Telangana and a member of the BJP, is followed by more than a lakh people and repeatedly posts messages relating to a ‘Hindu Rashtra.’ Recently, he posted a video where he is appealing to the public to prepare for a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ by saying “Are you ready to fight the Muslims, Christians and Secular Hindus?..We need to make an army in every state of India, we will help you.”

There are multiple such pages and people who have become “public figures” and are mobilizing  'masses' and 'calling followers to action read violence'. It is pertinent to observe that many of these calls are clearly targeted at the Muslim minority. These pages and profiles not only have a substantial online presence but are there on the ground as well. Majority of these pages and profiles are of Hindutva supremacists.

Few of them are- IT Cell BJP Goregaon Mumbai, Dharam Bandhu Ji Gau Katha, Amar Nath Tiwari, Singh Tri Bhuwan, Avinash Hindu, Aarti Jain, Vinod Goyal, Rajeev Gupta, Rashtriya Parshuram Sena Yuva Vahini Dholpur, Jago Hindu Warriors, Dnyanesh Shandilya, Bihar Bengal ki Yahi Pukar BJP ki Aae Sarkar and the list goes on.

All in all, such Facebook profiles and posts are a landmine of abusive and hateful posts creating a breeding ground for violence and revenge.

Interestingly, when one reports such profiles or posts to Facebook, citing that it violates their own community standards and comprises of hate speech, the response is not always welcoming. To give an instance, when one of our team members reported a hateful and communal post by Dnyanesh Shandilya, where he talks about Muslims being rapists and terrorists, the response he received was appalling! Facebook replied, “Thank you for letting us know about this. We've looked at the photo, and although it doesn't go against any of our specific Community Standards, you did the right thing by letting us know about it. We understand that it may still be offensive or distasteful to you, so we want to help you see less of things such as this in the future.”

Even the Equality Labs report on Facebook India, titled “Facebook India: Towards the tipping point in violence, caste and religious hate speech,” reveals how Facebook India has become a soapbox for hate mongering, communal violence, fake news among other things. It also reveals that Islamophobia dominates Indian hate speech, 93% of reported posts remain while 100% Islamophobic hate speech gets restored.

An analysis of the entire report can be read here.

Through the primary analysis of multiple Facebook profiles and the abovementioned report, it can safely be concluded that Facebook India has become a political tool for spreading one particular majoritarian and politically dominant ideology that makes no secret of inciting mobs against the minorities, particularly the Muslims. Unfortunately, Facebook India appears to be behaving like a mere spectator!

Whether this nonchalant behaviour is a choice or submission to political pressure is yet unknown. Irrespective of the rationale, one cannot deny the probable destruction of our Constitutional values of secularism, fraternity and integrity.

Clearly this is a new tool, technology that has taken easily to allowing itself to be a promoter of hate. Clearly Hate Sells on FB. But this new digital reality that is affecting perceptions and lives then becomes the greatest threat to peace in our neihbourhoods, streets and cities. Are we prepared to face and tackle this systemic barrage of hate?

Related Articles:
  1. ‘Islamophobia dominates Indian hate speech’: Equality Labs report on Facebook India
  2. Facebook blocks page of Good Morning Kashmir, deletes hundreds of posts
  3. Hate Watch: Bengal in turmoil as Instigators like Deepak Sharma wave their Social Media driven wand, again