Pro-Hindu NGO named Sanatan Sanstha has moved the High Court and challenged Mark Zuckerberg owned Facebook’s unilateral decision of banning three of its Facebook pages. According to a report published in Indian Express, two of three pages of the NGO were created in 2011 while the third one was made in 2013 and as per the plaintiff, contained articles, news, guidance about Hindu Dharma.
“It is also pertinent to note that the accounts contained articles, news, guidance about Hindu Dharma and the attacks thereon and thus it has nothing to do with any commercial activities,” the Sanstha stated in its petition.
A division bench of Justice M S Sonak and Justice M S Jawalkar at the High Court of Bombay in Goa started hearing the plea in which Facebook India counsel remarked that it would like to argue about the maintainability of the petition.
While the court adjourned the hearing till July 8, the Sanstha, in a passionate appeal, argued in front of the bench that banning the pages with a mass following, without giving any prior warnings was a blatant violation of fundamental rights.
“As this is a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioner and it is the duty of the Government to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens of India and as there is a complete failure on the part of the respondents to protect the constitutional rights of the petitioner,”
A Times report gives a vague reasoning by Facebook for banning the NGO’s page from the platform. “We don’t allow credible threats to harm others, support for violent organizations, or exceedingly graphic content on Facebook,” the e-mails accessed by the publication read.
In the absence of any statutory officer, the NGO had been unable to force Facebook to act fast on the issue. However, with the recent enactment of the revised IT Laws, forcing the social media companies to appoint compliance officer as well as appoint a company employee as grievance officer and a nodal contact person, the NGO has seen a glimmer of hope and thus moved the court.
Reported by TFI, India had fixed five million registered users as the threshold for defining a significant social media company as an intermediary. After the deadline to adhere to the new IT guidelines elapsed last month on May 26, social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, and Twitter ran the risk of losing their status as “intermediaries” and could have become liable for criminal action if they did not comply with the revised regulations.
While initially, all the aforementioned companies tried to stall adhering to the policy change, the government had to step in and use an iron fist to set things in motion. Although Facebook sent its subsidiary WhatsApp to the court to sue the government, it had to return empty-handed and accept the government’s decision.
There is no doubt regarding the fact that Facebook is an inherently left-leaning platform and voices pertaining to the conservative and far-right end of the political spectrum are more often than stifled. Thus banning pages of the Sanatan Sanstha should not come as a surprise to any.