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Facebook has been routinely censoring, deleting posts from members regarding the Eelam War, Mullivaikal killings, photos of LTTE leader Prabhakaran, what the Tigers did during the war, as well as Tamil nationalist ideas. This happens not just in India but all over the world where Tamils live and are members of Facebook.
For instance, on November 26, 2021, a post of Meganathan Munuswamy of Kancheepuram was blocked. Facebook apparently told him that his account was blocked since it said, “Let’s meet at the Mullivaikal corner in Thanjavur.”
BBC Tamil carried a report saying a Facebook user named J Wiki found his post putting out a photograph of Prabhakaran or his associates on his birthday blocked. His account was temporarily blocked.
Neethan Shan, a Tamil who lives in Canada, has tweeted that Facebook deleted his post that paid homage to Tamils killed during the conflict. His tweets say that Facebook told him he was banned from advertising or doing FB Live for 30 days as a result of his post.
Ingersoll, who lives in Norway, spoke over WhatsApp saying that if someone sends an attachment to him, he gets a message that he is not allowed to open the attachment. Some five years ago, the accounts of his he and his friends were blocked. That account is now permanently blocked. A native of Mayiladuthurai, he has now created another account.
Last year, MDMK leader Vaiko issued a statement condemning Facebook for curbing opinions and views regarding Tamil nationalism and the LTTE. He said that all the accounts that posted photos of Prabhakaran on his birthday were blocked. When a Facebook Live on that day showed volunteers going to orphanages with physically challenged children, the accounts were told that they could not do FB Live for another 60 days.
Vaiko’s statement says that Facebook has blacklisted many individuals and organizations that are considered a threat to security. On that list are Prabhakaran, the LTTE, Dileepan and details regarding the Eelam war. Facebook has said that if anyone posts regarding Eelam War or on the birthday of Prabhakaran, then it is a threat to security.
British newspaper The Guardian has published detailed reports on the guidelines Facebook follows regarding posts. Facebook has guidelines on content that promotes violence, terrorism, hate, ethnic hatred and so on. Hate speech, revenge motive, self-harm, suicide and threats are discouraged. Facebook uses Artificial Intelligence to mine its pages to pick out controversial posts.
D Johnson, an advocate at Madras high court, says that while removing content that promotes violence or creates insecurity among people is Facebook policy, it keeps changing its stance.
Facebook has relaxed its guidelines on posts that record what is happening in Ukraine. It has endorsed free speech when it comes to posts that Ukrainians have been putting about what is happening to them and how Russia is attacking civilians.
While Facebook blocks all content that relates to Eelam War, it has opened up its pages to content on the ongoing Ukraine war in which many have been uprooted and made refugees in other countries. Facebook has relaxed its guidelines on posts that record what is happening in Ukraine. It has endorsed free speech when it comes to posts that Ukrainians have been putting about what is happening to them and how Russia is attacking civilians. But, 12 years ago, similar aggression and attacks were made by the Sri Lankan defense forces on Tamil civilians. But Facebook refuses to allow any posts or content regarding them, he adds.
Advocate P Pugazhenthi says that giving arms and money to a banned organization is prohibited by Indian law. But there is no bar on demanding the revoking of the ban or campaigning against the ban on such organizations, he says, adding many courts have ruled thus. “High courts and the Supreme Court have said that there is no bar on talking about the LTTE or about the Eelam War,” says Pugazhenthi.
Advocate P Pugazhenthi: “It is not right that what is guaranteed by the Constitution is being denied by Facebook. Facebook should understand that India gives the right to talk about banned organizations.”
He recalls then Madras high court judge K Chandru saying in a case relating to a signature campaign against the LTTE ban that people have the right to speak about the LTTE. Pugazhenthi says Justice Sathish Kumar has said in a case filed against Kolathur Mani for speaking about the LTTE that fundamental rights of speech cannot be curbed and government cannot interfere with the observation of Martyrs Day that the LTTE used to do.
Pugazhenthi says that supporting the LTTE, Sri Lankan Tamils and talking about the Eelam War is a question of free speech rights. “It is not right that what is guaranteed by the Constitution is being denied by Facebook. Facebook should understand that India gives the right to talk about banned organizations,” he adds.
Emails were sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org regarding these questions. But so far no response has been received from Facebook.
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