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Facebook says it inadvertently restricted a hashtag. Now it needs to tell us exactly how and why

By Prateek Waghre On 28th April, reports emerged that Facebook was 'temporarily hiding' posts using the hashtag 'ResignModi' because 'some content' in those posts went against their Community Standards. This seemed like a rather fitting development in a week where the future of free speech and dissent in India had already managed to capture international attention. MEITY had ordered Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to remove/withhold 100-odd posts critical of how the Union government is handling COVID-19's second wave. While Twitter did disclose (as reported by Medianama) that it complied via the Lumen Database, the other platforms have not confirmed whether they received any such requests, nor whether they complied. Facebook did clarify that restricting the 'ResignModi' hashtag was a mistake and restored full visibility to it after a few hours. Restricting in this context meant that users couldn't search for posts with the hashtag but could post using it or view content that used it on their newsfeed. A 'mistake' Understandably, there is resistance to taking this clarification at face value. Levels of trust in the company have been on a sharp downward trajectory since the Wall Street Journal's reporting into its alleged closeness with the BJP. Neither has it acknowledged any actions it may or may not have taken in response to government requests this past week. It also didn't help that the message users saw is the same one it uses for hashtags that are deliberately blocked. E.g. sharpiegate or stopthesteal. [caption id="attachment_134680" align="aligncenter" width="210"] #ResignModi on Facebook…

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