If you’re China, it’s western social media giants like Twitter and Facebook that are seen and suppressed as “problematic”; likewise in the West, it’s Chinese breakaway apps like TikTok that are viewed with a high degree of scrutiny and suspicion.
But some in India seem happy to go after and take on after that whole bunch – and at the same time.
According to India Legal, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook-owned WhatsApp are all now potentially in some legal trouble in the country’s central Hyderabad state for allowing content that’s said to be harmful to “nation and religion.”
The nation, of course, is India – and as for religion, in that particular state it consists of a Hindu majority and a Muslim minority. But things are not at all as straightforward as they may seem.
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The complaint was filed by a journalist identified as S. Srishailam, while those whom the police will now want to talk to and hear their comments include the three social giants’ India-based heads, the report said.
All the three companies – two Western and one Chinese – according to Srishailam, have a “hidden agenda.”
All joking aside – they are accused of acting purposefully and for profit (no hidden agenda at least there, to be sure) while also allowing “objectionable” videos and texts that cause “damage to the nation integration and communal harmony.” And this harm is apparently done by “some anti-social elements, under the guise of freedom of expression.”
To help unpack what’s going on here, the complaint mentions that those allegedly abusing freedom of speech on these platforms are opponents of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) India adopted last year.
So what is the CAA? Passed last December, it caused protest across India – if the BBC is to be believed.
Referred to in some quarters as the “anti-Muslim law” – its goal is to let non-Muslims fleeing oppression from India’s neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan become citizens, as opposed to living in the country as illegal immigrants.
WhatsApp is accused of letting 26 different groups opposed to CAA thrive on the platform. Twitter is said to be turning a blind eye to “dubious content against religion and India.” But perhaps most interestingly, TikTok seems to be allowing “videos of (anti-CAA) protests.”
If true, that’s definitely not “on brand” with what we have been told about TikTok’s policies so far.