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Facebook & Twitter: Is Indian staff suspending Pakistani accounts?

Accounts on Facebook and Twitter belonging to Pakistani are being suspended because they have raising voice against Indian atrocities in Kashmir. Indian workers at regional offices of Facebook and Twitter are allegedly involved in suspending Pakistani accounts

Indian

News Analysis |

Once again Twitter has proved to be an Indian dominated company. Several accounts of Pakistanis who raised their voice for Kashmir have been suspended. In the latest development, the Director-General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, through his personal Twitter account, on Sunday said that Pakistani authorities have taken up with Twitter and Facebook the alleged suspension of Pakistani social media accounts posting in support of Kashmir. Analysts maintain social media sites are predominantly controlled by Indians.

Shahid Raza also suggested the same and urged the present government not to waste time and immediately make a policy and invite Facebook to build an office in Pakistan.

The DG ISPR also hinted at the involvement of Indian staff at the regional headquarters which is the main reason behind the suspension of accounts. “Pakistan authorities have taken up the case with Twitter and Facebook against suspending Pakistani accounts for posting in support of Kashmir. Indian staff at their regional headquarters is the reason,” he said.

Read more: Twitter explodes after Indian court acquits 6 accused in cow vigilante case

General Ghafoor’s statement #StopSuspendingPakistanis was trending on Twitter in Pakistan. Over the last week, multiple Pakistanis have taken to Twitter to report that accounts were being suspended after they posted about Kashmir.

Earlier this week, an Express Tribune correspondent’s Twitter account was suspended after he responded to a tweet from Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

According to ET, Indian government officials have admitted, on social media, to putting pressure on Twitter to suspend accounts tweeting in favor of Kashmir and against the Indian occupation regime.

An Express Tribune correspondent’s Twitter account was suspended after he responded to a tweet from Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Facebook has the greatest number of fact-checking partners in India, followed by the United States, according to the Poynter Institute. The numbers, Poynter said, are a reflection of where the majority of Facebook’s users are situated. There are 250 million Indian Facebook users.

Read more: Kashmir tension: Afridi Gambhir face off on Twitter

Facebook’s partners

According to Facebook, the following organizations have partnered with the social media giant for fact-checking purposes in India:

  • AFP India
  • Boom
  • Fact Crescendo
  • Factly
  • India Today Fact Check
  • Newsmobile Fact Checker
  • The Quint
  • Vishvas.News

Facebook, however, has only one partner in Pakistan as mentioned on its website: AFP Pakistan.

A recent report published by Access Now ─ an international non-profit advocacy group dedicated to an open and free internet ─ on global internet shutdowns stated that India was responsible for a majority (67 percent) of the 196 internet shutdowns documented across the world last year.

Read more: Indians Twitter-roast a Hindu who voiced Muslim hate

Facebook’s crackdown against Pakistani Social media activists

On April 1st, Facebook had made the announcement and had said that the 24 pages, 57 accounts and 7 groups removed on Facebook had more than 2.8 million followers. These pages and groups, alleged Facebook, belonged to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). “Today we removed 103 pages, Groups and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram as part of a network that originated in Pakistan,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity, had said in a statement released on April 1st.

Facebook has the greatest number of fact-checking partners in India, followed by the United States, according to the Poynter Institute.

The ISPR not only denied backing or employing the people behind pages, accounts and groups which were removed in the exercise but has also approached Facebook to express reservations over claims that it was behind those accounts. According to sources, ISPR has expressed its reservations over the claims made by Facebook that ISPR was managing these accounts or had employed people to run these accounts.

ISPR also raised questions over Facebook’s act of removing accounts highlighting the Kashmir issue and supporting Pakistan’s armed forces’ struggle. The military’s media wing also urged the social media giant to open its office in Pakistan for a “better understanding of the situation” on ground.

Read more: Twitter to ban Kashmiri journalists on India’s request

Expert opinion

Since after the Pulwama tragedy which claimed the lives of more than 40 Indian soldiers, Indian military establishment failed to adequately run its media campaign to win information war against Pakistan. Indian generals have publically confessed that Pakistan’s ISPR has remarkably done its job and defeated Indian narrative. Analysts in Pakistan argue that the current crackdown by Facebook against Pakistan’s social media activists is primarily India driven and it demands serious and careful deliberation to be dealt with.

The numbers, Poynter said, are a reflection of where the majority of Facebook’s users are situated. There are 250 million Indian Facebook users.

Dr. Moeed Pirzada, Pakistan’s prominent analyst and political commentator, tweeted and asked “how come Facebook Cybersecurity only found Pakistani ISPR linked social media teams & Congress party social media teams doing violations of its rules & no BJP or Hindutva linked teams? Has Facebook’s management been captured from inside? @fbnewsroom?

Read more: UNSC must uphold peace and security in Kashmir: Amnesty International

In his prime-time show Live with Moeed Pirzada on GNN, Dr. Moeed Pirzada argues Facebook which is an American company will soon get transformed into an Indian dominated company because of many Indians working within Facebook administration.

Read more: Over 4,000 imprisoned in Kashmir since lockdown began: sources

Shahid Raza, a renowned social media expert, also argued that Indians are now dominatingly influencing and controlling Facebook and using it for their political interests. He also lamented that Pakistanis are still unable to comprehend the significance of these social media sites which was primarily created to use as new battlefields for cyberwarfare.

Dr. Pirzada suggested the government of Pakistan to get in touch with the Facebook administration to enhance cooperation and understand in order to safeguard the national interest of the country. Shahid Raza also suggested the same and urged the present government not to waste time and immediately make a policy and invite Facebook to build an office in Pakistan.

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