Help The Kashmir Monitor sustain so that we continue to be editorially independent. Remember, your contributions, however small they may be, matter to us.

FB’s ‘illegal’ markers include Kashmir related posts

Srinagar, Jan 14: Facebook has released some new guidelines by asking its moderators to flag “locally illegal” posts in India looking for 20 markers including content on Kashmir, deities, and the Indian flag.

In its new policy, the social media platform dictates what ‘acceptable’ content is. It has 15,000 employees who review posts reported by users or chosen by the company’s algorithm.“This team decides whether a post should be allowed, taken down or sent to content policy teams,” a national daily quoted an internal FB document on Monday.

The various types of “locally illegal” online content includes: maps of Kashmir and Aksai Chain, posts supporting a separate Kashmiri state, with moderators told to look out for the terms “Azad Kashmir, Free Kashmir, Kashmir belongs to Pakistan”.

This contradicts the social media site’s publicly stated global policy, which does not consider speech attacking a religion or belief as hate speech, even in India, the daily said.

The company also insists it does not block “locally illegal” content unless it finds a local government request “valid”.

This is not the first time that social media giant has blocked the content, especially one related to or being posted from Kashmir.

In the past few years, posts of a number of Facebook users in Kashmir have been removed by the social media giant for “violating Facebook’s community standards.”

Facebook accounts of some prominent names in the academic circle were blocked post 2016 uprising in Kashmir. They included Dibyesh Anand, a professor in International Relations at University of Westminster and Huma Dar, a lecturer at University of California, Berkely.

Users keeping slain Hizbul Mujhahideen commander Burhan Wani’s photos as profile pictures also complained the social media website taking down the pictures.

The new guidelines from Facebook are drawing flak from the social media users.

Wasim Mir (name changed), a law student tweeted, “Facebook has been doing this for donkey years. It is just now that the policy is coming out in open. Anyway, it is just another validation of the fact that deep states fear the transformative power of social media discourse.”

Another Twitter user wrote, “This furtive surveillance of the content on social media with total disregard to the stated policy of acting as a neutral agent amounts to betrayal of trusts and scuttling the universally granted freedom and right of free and fair expression.”