BJP MLA Raja Singh’s Facebook page gets taken down – finally

Earlier this year, in February 2019, SabrangIndia’s sister organisation, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), wrote about BJP Telangana MLA Raja Singh, and how he repeatedly peddled hate. In June 2018, CJP had flagged Raja Singh’s Facebook page, through which he had broadcast a hate-filled speech over a false rumour regarding the cancellation of the Amarnath Yatra in Kashmir. When a CJP team met with Facebook executives in February, they were told that Singh’s Facebook page had been taken down, but CJP found that this was most certainly not the case. An official Raja Singh Facebook page, complete with a ‘verified’ checkmark, was still active then.

Raja Singh

However, this is no longer the case. On Monday, April 1, Raja Singh tweeted from his verified Twitter account, stating, “My official Facebook page has been unpublished / removed couple of days back”. He tagged Facebook, and asked if he could know the reason for this. 

Meanwhile, ThePrint reported on April 1 that Facebook had taken down about 200 pro-BJP groups or pages, citing multiple unidentified sources. It stated that per Facebook, it had removed pages operated by Silver Touch Technologies, a digital marketing company, the IT cell of the Gujarat Congress, and the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) of Pakistan. ThePrint noted that Silver Touch is “known to be working closely with the Bharatiya Janata Party,” and operates Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘NaMo’ app. ThePrint said that 15 pages that Silver Touch was operating were taken down, including one called ‘The Indian Eye’, which had 26 lakh followers and was “known to spread fake news.” However, Silver Touch has denied that it operated ‘The Indian Eye’. 

ThePrint explained that the above organisations were identified to deter “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”, but added that “a whole other set of 200 pages” had been taken down “under a different criterion: Abuse by individuals or ‘civic spam'”. Per several sources, most of these pages were largely right-wing and pro-BJP. “Civic spam” abuses involve users attempting to mask their actual locations, operating multiple or fake accounts, or ‘ad farms’ to generate income, as well as impersonation and uploading links to malware, among other things. Two people who operated pro-BJP, pro-Hindutva pages separately told ThePrint that their pages’ reach had shrunk by 20 crore users. Meanwhile, although more than 680 pages and groups linked to the Congress were taken down, they only had 200,000 followers, ThePrint noted. NDTV reported that the Congress pages had shelled out $39,000 (around Rs. 27 lakhs) for advertising expenses, while the pro-BJP pages had spent $70,000 lakhs (nearly Rs. 50 lakh).

It is currently unclear exactly why Raja Singh’s Facebook page was removed, but the MLA has routinely engaged in hate speech, over several years, making his having a verified platform dangerous, to say the least.

In February 2019, he declared at a public meeting in Maharashtra that “Anyone who does not say ‘Bharath matha ki jai’, or worship gau (cow) matha cannot be in Bharath”. In August 2018, he backed Assam’s draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) from which 40 lakh people were excluded, saying, “Today, a very good decision was taken. I agree completely with the NRC’s decision because what work do these Bangladeshis have in India? They are living in Assam with an intention to destroy India. The Centre must take steps to send them back as soon as possible. This is my request,” adding, “If these people don’t leave our country peacefully, I believe that there is a need to make them understand in another language, just like in other countries, they are shot and made to flee, in India as well, if they don’t leave, there is a need to shoot them and make them leave with bullets (sic)”, The News Minuted reported. In February 2018, a hate speech case was registered against Singh, who was allegedly captured on video saying that “every Hindu should carry weapons like lathis and attack other communities’ members if they said anything wrong,” per ANI. 



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