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Facebook Blocks #ResignModi Posts for Hours as India’s Covid Crisis Grows | India News


NEW DELHI: Facebook Inc blocked posts tagged #ResignModi before restoring them hours later, fueling a controversy sparked by government requests to remove content from social media as India grapples with a growing Covid crisis.
Facebook said it banned the hashtag in error and not at the behest of the government, without elaborating. Facebook periodically blocks hashtags for a variety of reasons, some manually, but many are also based on automated internal guidelines. The error was due to the content associated with the tag and not the hashtag itself, the spokesperson added.
The block of hours, which anticipated the final phase of legislator elections in a key state and effectively erased posts calling for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resignation, follows public outrage and official efforts to curb content it criticizes. the way your government has handled the pandemic. This year, the country established new rules requiring companies like Facebook and Twitter Inc. to remove illegal content faster, sparking a debate about free speech in the world’s largest democracy.
“We temporarily blocked this hashtag by mistake, not because the Indian government asked us to, and we have since restored it,” said a spokesperson for the Facebook company.
A new wave of the coronavirus has hit India in recent weeks, leaving a shortage of hospital beds, medicine and oxygen. Crematories are overrun and India has reported over 300,000 new infections daily over several days. Many have taken to social media to seek help for their plight, flooding services like WhatsApp and Instagram with pleas for everything from hospital beds to medications, CT scans, Covid tests at home, and even quarantined elderly food.
It has also drawn public ire for handling the crisis. In response, the Indian government ordered US social media companies to block posts, saying misinformation related to Covid could cause panic and disrupt efforts to control the pandemic.
Twitter Inc. has removed or restricted access to Covid-related posts for the past month. Earlier this year, the social media giant had to permanently suspend more than 500 accounts and block access to hundreds of others in India, agreeing to a government order to restrict the spread of misinformation and inflammatory content related to social media. farmers protests. The company has said that it reviews all valid legal requests it receives according to company guidelines and local rules.

Times of India