NEW DELHI: Facebook received immense criticism after all content bearing the hashtag ‘ResignModi’ on its platform was abruptly blocked. Since the hashtag contained posts criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, users suspected that the government may have asked Facebook to censor the posts. But Facebook has issued a statement denying allegations that it blocked the hashtag ‘#ResignModi’ on its platform at the behest of the government.
In a statement to the media, Facebook said: “We accidentally blocked this hashtag temporarily, not because the Indian government asked us to, and have since restored it.”
Andy Stone, communications manager for Facebook policies, took over Twitter to answer questions from several journalists about the incident. But he didn’t give a reason as to what exactly went wrong, which resulted in the hashtag being temporarily blocked. He just repeated that the hashtag had been restored.
A similar incident occurred last year in which the hashtag “Sikh” was blocked for three months on Instagram and Facebook at the beginning of the farmers’ protest. Facebook did not disclose the reason for blocking ‘#sikh’, merely saying that it was a bug.
The company had said in a statement: “We investigated this issue and found that these hashtags were falsely blocked on March 7th, following a report that was incorrectly verified by our teams. We noticed that these hashtags were blocked today following feedback from the community and we quickly moved on to unblocking them. Our litigation fell down here and we’re sorry. ”
On the flip side, Twitter recently followed orders from the government to suspend accounts that “contain inflammatory and divisive comments.”
“Twitter is an intermediary and they have an obligation to follow government orders. Refusing to do so will result in punitive action,” the IT ministry said. It also warned Twitter that if it did not go along with government demands, action would be taken against the company under Section 69A  of the IT law, according to which there will be a fine and arrest of executives.