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Facebook blocks and unblocks Indian Atheists page in 48 hours; reason?

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Facebook had blocked and has now unblocked the Facebook page Indian Atheists the page wrote in a post on its website. Although the page is up again, it is not clear why Facebook had blocked the page in the first place. The group told Medianama that it was not notified as to why the block happened, neither why Facebook unblocked it either.

Indian Atheists Debate Corner group was blocked too

An admin of the Indian Atheists page told us that its Facebook group “Indian Atheists debate corner” had also been restricted by Facebook around the same time as the Indian Atheists page and was resurrected with the page. The group reached out to Facebook (page messages and report options) and are yet to receive a response.

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No content was removed

Apparently, the group’s users stated that they were unable to share images, videos or tag the page in their status updates towards the end of last week. Users got this message from Facebook, “The content you’re trying to share includes a link that our security systems detected to be unsafe.” The group said that Facebook had not removed any specific posts or flagged any content as objectionable, but the entire page had been flagged as “unsafe”.

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Sticking to FB guidelines

The admin told us that the page had not been blocked in the last two years and that they’d taken steps to ensure adherence to Facebook’s guidelines. The page regularly publishes articles from the media about religion, homeopathy, alternative medicines and topics with respect to minorities in India.

Sikhs for Justice page was previously blocked

Last week, a non-profit organisation called Sikhs for Justice filed a lawsuit against social networking major Facebook for blocking its page in India. The page was blocked in early May. Sikhs for Justice primarily ran a campaign for a referendum seeking an independent Sikh country in Punjab through its Facebook page. The group had reportedly charged Facebook with entering “a pattern of civil rights violation and blatant discriminatory conduct” by blocking its page across India.

Facebook blocks highest pieces of content in India

We’d reported in March that Facebook restricted access to 5,832 pieces of content in India during the second half of 2014 (July- Dec 2014), the highest among all the countries in the world. Most of the blocked content was requested to be blocked by law enforcement agencies and the ICERT within the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

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In November last year, the Facebook page of the controversial ‘Kiss of Love’ protest was blocked along with the profile pages of all 15 administrators and a related Facebook group FreeThinkers. The page was subsequently reinstated, however Facebook did not provide any information as to why the page was blocked in the first place and then later reinstated.

In October last year, Facebook had also blocked the “I Fucking Love Science” Facebook page in India. The page redirected to Facebook’s home page in India, but worked fine when accessed through proxy servers.

Written By

I'm a MediaNama alumna from 2015-16 (remember TinyOwl?) now back to cover e-services like food and grocery delivery, app based transport and policies, platforms and media in India.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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