30, Jul 2019 | CJP Team
As a part of our ongoing Hate Watch campaign, we have now identified several additional social media accounts, particularly on Facebook, which are full of abusive and hateful posts. It appears that Facebook has become the platform of choice for influencers, troll armies and even ordinary people to spread hate, fake news and misinformation thereby threatening the social fabric of our society.
A Facebook page with the name All India Hindu Sena is dedicated to spreading hatred in the communally sensitive state of West Bengal. A page replete with anti-Muslim posts, videos and photos in Bengali language, it is followed by more than l5,000 people and liked by almost 14,000 people. Instead of directly posting anything hateful, this page has a standard strategy of uploading (unverifiable) videos wherein Muslims themselves are seen saying or doing something objectionable and such videos are followed by a caption written in Bengali which basically says how Muslims are a threat for the Indian nation and for the Hindus.
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For instance, on July 25 a video was uploaded on this page wherein two Muslim boys are seen talking about the lynching of Tabrez Ansari and how, if police are kept at bay for even 5 minutes, they can rape the Hindu females and show what Muslims can actually do. Evidently it is not possible to verify the credibility of this video or the speakers, whether they are actually Muslim or it is a strategy by the right-wing Hindutva fundamentalists to circulate such scripted videos for creating an anti-Muslim environment in the society. The video received 2,700 shares!
A Hindutva activist and staunch supporter of the present regime, a man named Deepak Srivastava has an anti-Muslim Facebook profile filled with abusive and outrageous posts. In a post dated July 2, Srivastava who works at a software company in Bangalore, uploaded multiple news articles of alleged Love Jihad cases followed by a long caption dedicated to the ‘secularists’ where he calls for the economic boycott of Muslims so as to paralyse them entirely. In reference to the news about 49 celebrities writing to the Prime Minister on the rising issue of religious polarization and the use of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, Srivastava shared a post, with a saffron background, scoffing at these celebrities and writing that “now these few celebrities will tell 100 crore Hindus that chanting Jai Shri Ram makes India intolerant.” Over the recent Azam Khan controversy, Srivastava shared a post, again with a saffron background, stating “It is not Azam’s fault, this is their culture. There is no guarantee when they will look into their sister’s eyes and make them their wives.”
But hate politics cuts across party lines. A Congress supporter and an advocate practicing at the Allahabad High Court, Abhyudaya Narayan Tripathi’s Facebook profile is full of violent, hateful and misogynistic posts. On July 28, he posted a photo of Union Minister Smriti Irani whistling at some occasion and gave it an extremely sexist caption which read, “It is surprising that our Union Minister was whistling like a rowdy at an NIFT function and this woman, who married her friend’s husband, talks about culture..” On the same day, he shared another post in which he warns the Dalits, backward classes and the Muslims to stay away from Brahmin and Kshatriya women. The same post was shared by Brijendra Shukla, Chief National Secretary of International Brahman Mahasanstha. He is followed by more than 11,000 people.
Not only common people, but even celebrities are using their official accounts for spreading hateful messages on other platforms as well. The best (or worst) example is actor Payal Rohatgi who has been using her official page to spread fake news and hate about everything from the Unnao rape case where a BJP MLA is the key accused, to targetting Shabana Azmi for using the word “mulk” for India to triple talaq.
CJP has been constantly fighting and monitoring hate on Facebook. Last year, CJP approached the NHRC and Facebook to report the hateful content posted by Hindutva activist Deepak Sharma that got his account banned.
But is cannot be denied that hate sells on Facebook, and it appears that little has been done by the platform to curb the spread of bigotry and communal bile. The question then is, how are we to prepare ourselves to face and tackle this systemic barrage of hate?