On December 28, 2017, a popular Facebook page ‘Humans of Hindutva’ (HoH), that used satire to take jibes at right wing politics, went offline and could not be accessed. A few hours later the admin of the parody page wrote on his website www.satyanash.com that he had voluntarily deleted the page as he had been receiving threats to his life from trolls who managed to get his number. The HoH admin who does not wish to be identified wrote,
“I’m quitting out of my own accord. I’ve not been banned or mass reported. I have recently received some threats to my life which I can’t take lightly. I am outnumbered, live in a BJP state and come from a middle-class family with no political or police connections. I have no desire to end up like Gauri Lankesh or Afrazul Khan. Actually, more than myself I worry for the safety of my family. I hope those who threatened me consider this as a victory and leave us alone. I have deleted the HOH page and will delete this website soon. Congratulations to Hindutva on winning this David vs. Goliath fight”
Editor of DailyO website Jairaj Singh who knows the person behind the page claimed that he’d received death threats which is why he took down the page.
Had a brief chat with my friend who runs the Humans of Hindutva page. He told me that trolls have got a hold of his phone number and they're sending him death threats. He's scared for his wife and children, so he's shut the page for now. The nation can't take a joke.
— Jairaj Singh (@JairajSinghR) December 28, 2017
HoH’s decision to delete the page and its contents was the trending topic of the day on social media. The news was carried by a number of publications like The Scroll, The Wire and DailyO. Fans and followers of the page lamented the decision, calling it a victory of ‘fascism’ over ‘dissent’. On the other hand, those who railed against HoH claimed that it was Facebook which had pulled down the page after it was mass reported for hate speech.
Journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh was among those who questioned HoH’s claim that the page had been voluntarily taken down.
— Aarti Tikoo Singh (@AartiTikoo) December 29, 2017
Right-wing blog OpIndia also wrote an article claiming that Facebook deleted the page for violating community guidelines.
Alt News contacted the admin of Humans of Hindutva over email who rubbished the claim that his page was deleted by Facebook. In an email conversation, he said
“There are some photos doing the rounds which claim that my page was deleted by Facebook. This is patently false. I’m attaching a screenshot to prove that it was a decision taken by me and not Facebook. There are many people who are celebrating my decision to take down a page due to threats on my life. Unfortunately, even in my defeat they are proving me right by acting exactly in the way I used to satirize. Thanks for proving me right. Even some ‘journalists’ think I’m doing this as a publicity stunt and am a coward for surrendering. Apparently, choosing to protect one’s family (in the same year when a journalist was shot dead at her door and numerous people have been lynched and a man was set on fire on video) makes one a coward. Yes, I’m a coward for choosing common sense. If I was living in a country which could protect people like me then I wouldn’t have to be anonymous in the first place. Come talk to me when you are facing thousands of nameless, faceless enemies who are sponsored by The Powers That Be. I’m not going to take any action against those who threatened me because I live in a system where doing so only exposes me to further risk. I am choosing to move on and soon enough you will move on as well once you stop celebrating the end of a silly parody page. But remember: my defeat is your defeat too. Today it is me, tomorrow it could be you.”
He also sent the following screenshot to attest his claim. In the screenshot, “Humans of Hindutva is scheduled to be deleted in 14 days [Cancel Deletion]” notice can be seen which would indicate that the admin has chosen to delete the page.
We also received another screenshot according to which a Facebook page with the URL “https://www.facebook.com/HoHHindi” is the one that had actually been suspended. The suspension notice being circulated on social media has a capital ‘O’ in “Humans Of Hindutva” which matches the HoHHindi page while the original “Humans of Hindutva” page has a small ‘o’.
To show that the page was indeed deleted voluntarily and not suspended by Facebook, as we were writing this article, the admin ‘undeleted’ his page (Facebook allows one to ‘undelete’ upto 14 days) and posted the following.
One may or may not agree with the style and content of the humour and satire adopted by ‘Humans of Hindutva’ but there is no merit to the claim that the page had been deleted by Facebook for violation of community standards. It was a voluntary decision by the admin.
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