Time magazine exposes the social media giant
NEW DELHI – It was several months back that Facebook had banned Sanathan Sanstha, a Hindu extremist group. However, it allowed 32 pages linked to the group to function uninterrupted. These pages have 3.2 million followers. This was noticed by the Time magazine on whose query Facebook removed all but three pages in April.
According to a report published in the magazine, Facebook had quietly banned at least three main pages of Sanatan Sanstha, which had 70,000 followers, in September last year. The social media giant did not talk openly about banning these pages but it explained to one of the administrators the reasons behind banning them. “We don’t allow credible threats to harm others, support for violent organizations, or exceedingly graphic content on Facebook,” said Facebook in an email to one of the administrators.
The Sanatan Sanstha has been described by US-based watchdog Freedom House as an “Extremist group”. It has been accused of assassinating four prominent people including a journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017.
“We have disabled Sanatan Sanstha’s accounts from Facebook for violating our Community Standards. We apply our policies globally and enforce content without any regard to political affiliations,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement about their actions.
These pages often engaged in posting hate speeches and Islamophobic contents targeting Muslims which linked back to the website maintained by Sanatan Sanstha. Their posted content has been viewed more than 11.4 million times between September 2020 and April 2021.
Many of those pages were carrying the brand of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), a sister organization of Sanatan Sanstha. It claimed that Sanatan Sanstha and the HJS are separate organizations but author Dhirendra K Jha, a journalist who visited their headquarters for his book Shadow Armies: Fringe Organizations and Foot Soldiers of Hindutva, said that both of these groups are the same.
“The Sanatan Sanstha is basically the mother organization,” he says. “The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti is its main outfit through which it does all its work. Whatever you can think of that the Sanatan Sanstha wants to do, that would be the responsibility of the HJS.”
Sanatan Sanstha and HJS are not officially affiliated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party but their ideologies are similar. In 2013, before becoming Prime Minister, Narendra Modi said that he was proud of HJS’s works. In 2016, Goa BJP lawmaker T Raja Singh attended its conference calling for action against those who engaged in cow slaughter and religious conversion of Hindus.
“The pages regularly shared allegations of violence by Muslims against Hindus — often taken from unconfirmed reports in right-wing news outlets. But the posts rarely even mentioned the words “Muslim” or “Islam;” in India, it is often possible to assume someone’s religion by their name alone,” said Time report about the hatful content shared on those pages.
A page Hindu Adhivesh shared post which talks about Muslims attacking Ashram in Bangladesh depicting Muslim ‘green monster’ and called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pressurize the Bangladesh government to protect Hindus.
The same page shared an unverified report that a Muslim trapped Hindu girl in his love, tortured her and throw her out along with dehumanizing picture of bearded man.