Facebook to its moderators: Look out for phrase ‘Free Kashmir’

Social media giant Facebook has told its moderators who are tasked with “spelling out what is forbidden” to “look out for” the phrase “Free Kashmir”, a media report said.
Representational Pic
Representational Pic

Social media giant Facebook has told its moderators who are tasked with "spelling out what is forbidden" to "look out for" the phrase "Free Kashmir", a media report said.

According to a report in The New York Times, "Inside Facebook's Secret Rulebook for Global Political Speech", the social media giant has told its moderators that Indian law prohibits calls for an independent Kashmir.

"…another slide says that Indian law prohibits calls for an independent Kashmir, which some legal scholars dispute. The slide instructs moderators to "look out for" the phrase "Free Kashmir" — though the slogan, common among activists, is completely legal," reported The New York Times.

"Facebook says it is simply urging moderators to apply extra scrutiny to posts that use the phrase. Still, even this could chill activism in Kashmir. And it is not clear that the distinction will be obvious to moderators, who are warned that ignoring violations could get Facebook blocked in India."

Facebook has been accused of temporarily or permanently disabling posts, mostly of journalists and activists, in the past. The social network has drawn criticism for undermining democracy and for provoking bloodshed in societies small and large, said the report.

"Every other Tuesday morning, several dozen Facebook employees gather over breakfast to come up with the rules, hashing out what the site's two billion users should be allowed to say. The guidelines that emerge from these meetings are sent out to 7,500-plus moderators around the world. (After publication of this article, Facebook said it had increased that number to around 15,000," the report said.

"The closely held rules are extensive, and they make the company a far more powerful arbiter of global speech than has been publicly recognized or acknowledged by the company itself," The New York Times has found.

"The Times was provided with more than 1,400 pages from the rulebooks by an employee who said he feared that the company was exercising too much power, with too little oversight — and making too many mistakes."

An examination of the files revealed numerous gaps, biases and outright errors, said the report.

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