Around a dozen journalists belonging to anti–establishment news portals have been blocked out of their Facebook accounts in the past few days, reports The Telegraph. Affected journalists include Rifat Jawaid of Janta ka Reporter, Prema Negi and Ajay Prakash of Janjwar and several journalists at Caravan Daily and Bolta Hindustan. We’ve written to Facebook for further details and will update this when we hear from them.

The following journalists’ accounts were blocked:

Janjwar

  • On October 1, five reports by Janjwar were marked as spam by Facebook. One of them was a report on Delhi–based activist Gautam Navlakha being released by Delhi High Court.
  • On October 4, personal accounts of Negi and Prakash — who were also admins of Janjwar’s Facebook page — were blocked. Facebook then asked both for identity cards, and although both provided their Voter ID cards, only Negi’s was accepted. Prakash gave his PAN card, but in any case, his account was disabled multiple times after that.

Janata ka Reporter 

  • Facebook page was disabled on September 27, “minutes after I [Jawaid] posted something on the Ayodhya verdict.” The page was enabled after Rifat Jawaid wrote to the nodal officer.

Bolta Hindustan

  • Accounts of five employees of the publication were blocked.
  • On October 4 and 5, accounts of the admins were disabled. A journalist from the news portal told The Telegraph, “we’ve decided not to speak out” since they are likely to lose readers if their accounts are blocked again.

Facebook has done this before…

  • In September 2017, Facebook reportedly blocked the accounts and pages of Humans of Hindutva, documentary film-maker Gautam Benegal, and journalist Mohammad Anas, that shared content critical of the ruling BJP or of right-wing groups. The company had then denied any such allegations. Read more here.
  • In November 2015, users were unable to share news articles from publications like The Wire and Faking News. Some of these were without error, some were deemed unsafe by Facebook’s security systems, and some were deemed abusive.
  • In June 2015, Facebook had blocked and unblocked the Facebook page Indian Atheists, without any notification. At the time, a non-profit organisation ‘Sikhs for Justice’ had filed a lawsuit against social networking major Facebook for blocking its page in India.

Image by Bill Kerr