Kochi: A close reading of the closure of popular social media groups like International Chalu Union (ICU) and Free Thinkers reveal that the ‘policies’ of social media sites like Facebook are affecting free speech and freedom of expression. Fed up over the frequent deletion and closure of the group, the ICU has decided to create its own social media platform.
ICU is the most popular hangout place on Facebook among Keralites with more than five lakh followers. “We are working on the independent platform which is in the Alfa stages now. We believe that it can be stabilised and released in the next couple of months,” said Roshan Thomas of ICU. In most cases, sarcastic posts making fun of religion and politics are leading to the closure. The other day ICU's Facebook group vanished into thin air and even without any intimation from the Facebook.
The group was deleted after an alleged ‘mass reporting’ by a section of online users. It is common for social media platforms to enforce policies and community guidelines. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and all do the same now. However abuse of functionalities to take down content, even though they don't violate community guidelines with mass reporting, is frequent on Facebook.
We are disappointed with the regular removal of such content and we believe that the only way out here is an open, independent platform,” said Mr Thomas. “A recent phenomenon we saw was photos of ‘ISIS’ getting automatically removed. No matter what it actually said. As you know, the posts in ICU on the ISIS were sarcastic retorts to the news which said Malayalis joined the same,” said an admin of ICU.
However, Facebook claims in its community standard policy that the number of reports does not impact whether something will be removed. “We never remove content simply because it has been reported a number of times.”...