Announcement of Case: Punjabi Concern Over the RSS in India

Having recently announced our next round of cases, the Board has now selected an additional case for consideration.

Since we started accepting cases in October 2020, more than 180,000 cases have been appealed to the Board. As we cannot hear every appeal, we are prioritizing cases that have the potential to affect lots of users around the world, are of critical importance of public discourse, or raise important questions about Facebook’s policies.

The case we are announcing is:


Case referred by user

Submit public comment here.

In November 2020, a user shared a post from Punjabi-language online media platform Global Punjab TV with accompanying text, claiming that the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are threatening the Sikhs with genocide.

The Global Punjab TV post the user shared is a 17-minute interview with Professor Manjit Singh. In the video post, Global Punjab TV included the caption “RSS is the new threat. Ram Naam Satya Hai. The BJP moved towards extremism” [RSS ਦੀ ਨਵੀਂ ਧਮਕੀ, ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਸੱਤ ਹੈ! ਕੱਟੜਤਾ ਵੱਲ ਹੋਰ ਵਧੀ ਬੀਜੇਪੀ]. The media company also included an accompanying text “New Threat. Ram Naam Satya Hai! The BJP [India’s ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party] has moved towards extremism. Scholars directly challenge Modi!”

In the accompanying text, the user stated that the CIA designated the RSS a “fanatic Hindu terrorist organization” and that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was once its president. The user writes that the RSS is threatening to kill Sikhs and repeat the “deadly saga” of 1984 when Hindu mobs massacred and burned Sikh men, women and children. They go on to state that “The RSS used the Death Phrase ‘Ram naam sat hai’.” The user then says that Prime Minister Modi himself is formulating the threat of “Genocide of the Sikhs” on advice of the RSS President, Mohan Bhagwat. The accompanying text ends with a claim that Sikhs in India should be on high alert and that Sikh regiments in the army have warned Prime Minister Modi of their willingness to die to protect the Sikh farmers and their land in Punjab.

The post was viewed fewer than 500 times and taken down after a single report. Facebook removed the content for violating its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations. After the user submitted their appeal to the Board, Facebook identified the removal of this post as an enforcement error and restored the content.

As part of their appeal, the user indicated to the Board that the post was not threatening or criminal. The user alleged that the comment simply repeated the video’s substance and reflected its tone. The user wondered why the video still remained on Facebook if there was an issue with the content. The user also complained about Facebook restricting their ability to post. The user noted that thousands of people engage with their content and called on the account to be restored immediately. The user suggested that Facebook should take down content that violates Facebook’s Community Standards and only restrict accounts when users engage in threatening, criminal or misleading activities.

Public comments

If you or your organization feel that you can contribute valuable perspectives that can help with reaching a decision on the case announced today, you can submit your contributions using the link above. The public comment window for this case is open for 14 days, closing at 15:00 UTC on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

What’s next

In the coming weeks, Board Members will be deliberating this case. Once they have reached their final decision, we will post it on the Oversight Board website.

In addition, we expect to publish a decision on case 2020-007-FB-FBR in the coming days. This case relates to India and a post removed under Facebook's Violence and Incitement Community Standard.

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