indica News Bureau-
Accidents happen. In the digital world, hashtags play a great role. They bring voices together and inspire, and at the same time, they can even be used to create propaganda movements. In order to control the spread of hate and violence, the companies block certain hashtags. But sometimes it can go wrong too.
Last week, a large number of people outraged on social media for not allowing them to use the #sikh hashtags on Facebook and Instagram.
When it came to light, Facebook admitted it was “mistakenly blocked” due to an inaccurate report received in early March.
The block was in place for nearly three months, but Facebook became aware of the issue only on Wednesday. Shortly after receiving reports from users, Instagram unblocked the hashtag and Facebook took some additional time.
Instagram immediately clarified their actions on their Twitter page, they said, “We investigated this issue and found that these hashtags were mistakenly blocked on March 7th following a report that was inaccurately reviewed by our teams. Our processes fell down here, and we’re sorry.”
Twitter users, however, demanded more explanations as to why the hashtag was blocked.
“A full explanation please, once you have investigated. Also, look into one of the other related hashtags such as #Sikhism which appear to be restricted. We won’t be censored.
“The fact that this happened in the first place says a lot about Facebook and Instagram,” said one user.
“There NEEDS to be a follow up to this tweet. It is incredibly important that there is an EXPLANATION to this,” demanded another user.
The issue appeared to affect select people. Poet and author Rupi Kaur called it out “the hypocrisy of Facebook’s approach to free speech.” Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram and former head of News Feed, posted a reply to Kaur’s tweet, and that move ultimately brought the unblocking on Instagram.
Earlier in the week, some users reported that they could not post or interact with the #blacklivesmatter hashtag.
The company said it was able to address the issue, and “reduce” the number of users who could not message using the hashtag, said the report.
It is important to highlight that the blocking of the #sikh hashtag came into notice at a time when a large number of Sikhs are observing the anniversary of Operation Bluestar that happened in June 1984.
“This is an incredibly important, painful time for the Sikh community,” Instagram wrote while apologizing for the blocking of the #sikh hashtag. “We designed hashtags to allow people to come together and share with one another. It’s never our intention to silence the voices of this community, we are taking the necessary steps so this doesn’t happen again.”
While they apologized for the mistake, they did not provide clarity on why their platforms weren’t able to detect the error, and why it took months in realizing the mistake.