LA Times story on Narendra Modi censored on Facebook

LA Times journalist Shashank Bengali writes a variety of stories on South Asia, including a very positive recent article on Prime Minister Modi’s upcoming trip to Silicon Valley. But when he published a new story critical of the Modi administration, his story was targeted for online censorship.

His new Los Angeles Times story, “India police officers feel targeted for offering evidence against prime minister”, is a damning look at the attacks faced by whistleblowers against Narendra Modi:

“One police official saw his promising career flatline and was dogged by minor misconduct charges until he took early retirement this year. Another endured a long suspension before being fired last month, but not before a sex video surfaced that purported to show him with a mistress. (Apart from the receding hairline and healthy mustache, his wife said, he looked nothing like the man on screen.) A third faces a possible inquiry into decade-old charges of disclosing sensitive information. It could cost him his pension. The three former officials say they have been targeted for offering evidence potentially damaging to India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, in a protracted investigation into one of India’s worst bouts of religious violence in recent decades.” (source)

But when you try to share the story on Facebook, it gets flagged as unsafe content, forcing the user to complete a CAPTCHA:

LA Times share attempt screenshot
Screenshot of an attempt at sharing the exposé on Modi on Facebook


But it’s even harder to click on the story. When you try to click on a link to the story, Facebook tries to warn users that this may be dangerous:

Facebook click on LA Times story
Screenshot of an attempt at clicking on the exposé on Modi on Facebook

This censorship on Facebook may be the result of Narendra Modi partisans — either paid or unpaid — repeatedly clicking “report as spam/virus” on the story, forcing Facebook’s algorithms to treat it as dangerous content.

It’s outrageous for Facebook to be used a tool of censorship to bolster Narendra Modi’s PR, preventing American readers from reading an American newspaper article via an American social network.

Try sharing the link for yourself to see if this is still happening.


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