Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA |
The #Sikh hashtag was temporarily blocked at major social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. And the operators of the large platforms have yet to explain how the major bungling took happened.
“We have unblocked the hashtag #sikh on Instagram and are working to unblock #sikh on Facebook. We’re investigating why this happened. We will follow up here later today with more information,” Instragram said in a tweet at @InstagramComms which went up in early today (Thursday).
The hashtag blocking is taking place at a time when Sikhs globally are reflecting on the Indian army attack upon the Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, in 1984. Referred to as the #1984 Sikh genocide, the incident also involved the killing and disappearance of thousands of Sikhs.
In a series of tweets, Instagram said that it had now unblocked the #sikh hasgtag on both Instagram and Facebook.
In three earlier tweets, it noted:
“Thanks for your patience today. We investigated this issue and found that these hashtags were mistakenly blocked on March 7th following a report that was inaccurately reviewed by our teams.”
“We became aware that these hashtags were blocked today following feedback we received from the community, and quickly moved to unblock them. Our processes fell down here, and we’re sorry.
“This is an incredibly important, painful time for the Sikh community. We designed hashtags to allow people to come together and share with one another. It’s never our intention to silence the voices of this community, we are taking the necessary steps so this doesn’t happen again.”
In response, one Sikh with the handle Unknown Wanderer (@insidebajwa) remarked: “I appreciate the unblocking but what I’d appreciate more would be an inquiry as to why was the voices of 37+ Million people (and 5th largest religion) were silenced on your platform.”
Another Twitter user, Callum Atwal (@_catwal) said: “If it is a case of people mass reporting posts with the #sikh hashtag has triggered an automatic block, could the Sikh Community at least have some reassurance that such thing is not able to happen again? This isn’t the first time this has happened.”
This is not the first time that the social media platforms have blocked Sikh-related hashtags.
In a statement, London-based Sikh Press Association noted that the while Sikhs worldwide commemorate the atrocities committed against Sikhs in India in June 1984, the hashtag #NeverForget1984 appeared in the top trends on Twitter in the UK, USA and Canada earlier this week.
However, it said searching for the #Sikh hashtag on Facebook and Instagram now provides no search results on either platform.
“The rationale behind this censorship is currently unclear, but commentators online are suggesting that the Indian government has applied pressure on the companies, in an attempt to deflect attention away from the genocide of Sikhs that it orchestrated in 1984 and throughout subsequent years,” it said.
When the hashtag is searched for on Facebook, it noted that a notice appears that reads: “Keeping Our Community Safe: Posts with #sikh are currently hidden here. Some content on those posts goes against our community standards.”
Afghan religious minorities ‘remained endangered’, says US commission (Asia Samachar, 28 May 2020)
1984: Etched onto collective Sikh psyche (Asia Samachar, 2 June 2019)