10, Oct 2018 | CJP Team
Just days after writing a letter to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), that was also copied to Facebook, to take action in the Varanasi Church attack case, we have now once again written separately to Facebook on October 10, 2018, urging them to investigate how their social media platform was misused in order to spread hate and instigate violence.
Multiple Facebook profiles allegedly belonging to members of the Hindu Yuva Shakti Sangathan, have shared inflammatory content on Facebook, containing threats against the Christian community in Varanasi. It was members of this group that allegedly vandalised the 200-year-old St. Thomas Church in Godaulia on October 2, 2018.
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Some of the hateful posts may be viewed here:
Ankhi Das Public Policy Director, India, South & Central Asia Facebook Dear Ms. Das, We at Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) believe strongly in the constitutional values of secularism, harmony, and dialogue. In a recent incident in Varanasi, St. Thomas Church in Godaulia was allegedly vandalised by Hindu extremists, some of whom also posted on Facebook inflammatory content targeting the Christian community. This episode stands directly in opposition to the above mentioned constitutional values. We have written a statement in support of local organisations' efforts to hold those responsible for this incident, including those posting inflammatory content on Facebook, accountable; it has been sent to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Director General of Police in Uttar Pradesh, and was also copied to you. It is attached for your reference, along with a letter in Hindi from local organisations regarding the incident, and screen shots of relevant Facebook posts. The need for social media platforms, including Facebook, to effectively tackle hate speech has long been acknowledged. As Public Policy Director for Facebook in India, South & Central Asia, we call on you to scrutinise these Facebook profiles and posts, and take appropriate action. It is undeniable that Facebook has given a voice to many who previously lacked a platform, but, it cannot allow hate to fester with impunity, especially when there could be real-life consequences for those being targeted. Awaiting your response, and action from Facebook, Yours sincerely, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP)
Update on Monday, October 22, 2018: While CJP did not receive a response from Facebook, the posts that we had highlighted in our letter appear to have been removed.