Facebook Disables the ‘No Vote to BJP’ Page With 30k Followers

The group was initially started in end of 2020 as part of a grassroots-level people’s campaign to keep the far-right BJP infamous for its communal politics at bay in the WB elections.

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Image: NoVoteToBJP/Twitter

In another episode of a clampdown on dissent by the Indian masses online, Facebook has disabled a group named ‘No Vote to BJP’, an online campaign that targeted communal and regressive politics of far-right BJP and other groups associated with Hindutva organisation RSS.

The group was initially started as part of a grassroots-level people’s campaign started towards the end of 2020 to keep the far-right BJP infamous for its communal politics at bay in the state elections in West Bengal in 2021 in which Trinamool Congress (TMC) won 219 out of 292 seats to get a landslide victory.

The Facebook group, now disabled, had widespread reach in the state even in outer areas away from the capital city Kolkata with over 33,000 members.

Also read: Facebook & BJP Ties: Censorship of dissent and promotion of hate speech

On Thursday the group took to social media platforms to announce the arbitrary action by Facebook and condemned it for bowing down to the ruling BJP regime instead of upholding freedom of speech and expression. The group has demanded the restoration of their Facebook group.

Talking to Gauri Lankesh News, Kasturi Basu, a member associated with the campaign said that the social media platform suspended the group citing violation of community standards without flaging any post or providing the admins with any further specifications.

Social media platforms in the country have been called out in the past for disabling, deleting, and shadow banning accounts of people including journalists, opposition leaders, and organisations critical of the ruling BJP government in the name of painting community guidelines while promoting hate speech by right-wing groups.

Also read: Twitter Locks the Accounts of Congress Party and thousands of Party Workers

“There has been a pattern to Facebook’s engagement with the accounts of anti-fascist individuals and groups in the state,” Basu explained.

Earlier two widely popular people’s groups namely ‘No NRC’ and ‘Local Train Kinte Chai’ none of which were affiliated to any political parties were repeatedly suspended by the platform on the pretext of community standard violations.

The latter group that was formed to protest against the privatisation of railways had over 1 lakh followers has now been suspended permanently. The group employed satire to attack the BJP ruled Union government’s privatisation campaign.

The accounts targeted by the platform share one common feature of being critical of the actions of BJP-RSS in an effort to keep the democratic practices of protest and questions against the government.

On Thursday, Basu’s personal Facebook account was restricted by Facebook for 24 hours after she made a post calling out the hypocrisy of the latest circular by the Assam government in which it announced that a detention center in the state will be renamed as ‘Transit camp’.

 

“The Big Bosses of the Assam Government have notified that the Detention Centers in Assam are being renamed as Transit Camps. Everything else is the same. What do you think? What does this ruthless joke with people mean? No matter what you call it, the citizens of the country are being unjustly detained in those jails and are rotting. Destroying thousands of families and an entire society.

All these prisons should be demolished immediately. Let NRC, CAA, NPR be completely destroyed,” her Facebook post read in Bangla.

“There is no scope for grievance redressal when it comes to Facebook. The social media platform continues to take arbitrary actions against users without any accountability. It’s a faceless Facebook platform,” Basu added.

The Facebook group ‘ No Vote to BJP ‘ was created as part of an online campaign of a people’s forum called ‘Bengal against Fascist RSS-BJP’ which came into existence when people associated with various mass movements joined hands to resist the BJP in November 2020.

The collective with volunteers among students, young people, doctors, and activists among others started the ‘No Vote To BJP’ both on the ground and online reaching secluded areas to forge solidarities against BJP, The Wire reported.

When the country was hit by the COVID19 pandemic limiting physical gatherings and events, the Facebook group of the campaign became significant as it reduced the difficulty of political messaging.

The campaign released a series of videos engaging in burning issues pertinent to Bengal such as the communal hatred spread by Hindu right-wing groups, freedom to make personal choices, economic distress in the country among other things. The videos were able to gain viewership in millions and played a vital role in building a narrative against the divisive promises of the BJP.

After achieving its objective to keep BJP out of political power in West Bengal, the campaign is now organising around national issues. The campaign has been protesting and holding public meetings against the anti-people policies of BJP such as the labour codes, privitisation of public institutions among others, Mr. Amitav told Gauri Lankesh News. 

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