New Delhi: In an exclusive investigative report posted by one of India’s leading independent media outlets The Wire, the website has claimed popular social media platform Instagram will take down a post without any questions if the post is reported by Amit Malviya, the IT Cell Chief of BJP.
In the report, worked on by The Wire’s Deputy Editor Jahnavi Sen, the website claimed Instagram had recently took down a video posted by ‘Superhumans of Cringetopia’ an anonymous satirical account citing that the post violated the platform’s ‘nudity and sexual content guideline.
The post, however, was only showing a man, a resident of Uttar Pradesh Prabhakar Maurya worshipping a statue of state chief minister Adityanath. The post was also not in violation of the guidelines of Instagram as both the man and the idol in the video were fully clothed, and there was no visible sexual connotation whatsoever, the report added.
Days after reporting on this confusing takedown, The Wire has learned from a well-placed source at Meta that it was not, in fact, due to an algorithmic glitch. The post was taken down – and that too just minutes after it was posted – only because it was reported by Instagram user @amitmalviya. That's the handle belonging to Amit Malviya, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party's infamous IT Cell, the report further elaborated.
The report further cited an internal report of Instagram which it claimed had accessed, to establish that the reported post was taken down immediately without the company’s moderator having a look at it and only based on the identity of the reporter Amit Malviya.
It further quoted a source at the Meta, the company that runs Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram and is owned by Mark Zuckerberg, and added any post that Malviya reports is treated the same way – an immediate removal from the platform, no questions asked.
In the month of September, the report claimed Malviya had reported 705 posts all of which were taken down immediately, the report quoted the source as saying.
As The Wire has reported, @cringearchivist has seen seven of its posts removed by Instagram in the last few months. This, the administrators of the satirical account said, has forced them to go 'private' (only followers can see their posts), thereby limiting their growth and reach. Now, new followers have to fill out a form before they are allowed to see the content posted on the page.
“Other removed posts from the @cringearchivist page, The Wire has now learned, were also reported by none other than Malviya. While two were flagged for sexual content – the post on the Adityanath temple and another that amplified the voice of a female influencer who was posting about creepy DMs she got – the rest were taken down citing 'extreme graphic violence, despite the videos not showing violence. Instagram's rate and speed of takedowns had worried the handle's administrators, who thought their page in its entirety may be deleted if this continued.” The report added.
Malviya, the Instagram report on the @cringearchivist post states, is part of Meta's 'XCheck' or 'Cross Check' program. This program – a closely guarded company secret until it was first exposed by the Wall Street Journal in September 2021 – allows a list of 'elite' accounts on Meta platforms (belonging mostly to celebrities and politicians) to flout the rules the company claims applies to everyone under the garb of protecting these high-profile users. The programme was designed to prevent the bad press that sometimes came from actions against celebrity users.
“Some users are “whitelisted”—rendered immune from enforcement actions—while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come,” Wall Street Journal reported then. The Instagram report on the @cringearchivist posts that were removed makes it clear the XCheck privileges are even more sweeping – these users can also have posts taken down as they please, without the company bothering to check whether there is justifiable cause.
The XCheck program was criticised even within Meta, with an internal review finding, according to the Wall Street Journal, that “Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences.”
Globally, according to the Wall Street Journal, 5.8 million users were a part of the XCheck program in 2020. Users are not typically told when they are included in this privileged list, the newspaper noted. While some of the names revealed by the newspaper were celebrities with hundreds of millions of followers, like the Brazilian footballer Neymar, Malviya has less than 5,000 followers on Instagram and 15,000 followers on Facebook.
The internal report makes clear that after Malviya reported @cringearchivist's post, no human intervention was deemed necessary by Meta – the post was gone from the platform immediately, and no review process was seen as “required”, The Wire’s report added.
The company has given Malviya two levels of privileges – he can post as he likes, without the rules governing the platform applying to him, and he can impose his will as he pleases to have posts critical of the BJP, the Union government, or right-wing Hindu politics, deleted, it further added.
For someone who regularly uses social media for disinformation – for instance, last month posting photos from 2019 while claiming that they portrayed a recent Narendra Modi rally, or alleging that a recent New York Times article on the Delhi government's education programme was a 'paid promotion' – a privilege like this underlines that general users' best interests aren't Meta's priority here. Because while the rest of us may not be able to get away with performing such a tenuous relationship with the truth on Meta platforms, or refusing to let any dissent or criticism exist, Malviya sure can. The report added a conclusion.
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Kanpur (UP), Dec 3: A 17-year-old vegetable vendor lost his leg after being run over by a train while he was collecting his belongings allegedly thrown on a track by police personnel during an anti-encroachment drive here.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Vijay Dhull told PTI that Head Constable Rakesh Kumar has been placed under suspension.
Police initiated an inquiry after several purported videos surfaced online showing the boy lying on the tracks asking for help as policemen and people try to rescue him, a senior official said.
"Prima facie, it appears Kumar showed negligent behaviour," Dhull said, adding that Assistant Commissioner of Police (Kalyanpur) Vikas Pandey has been asked to conduct the inquiry and submit a report at the earliest.
Police personnel had thrown a container of the victim, identified as Arsalan alias Irfan of Rawatpur area, and when he had gone on the railway track to pick it up, he was run over by a train on Friday, Dhull said.
Arsalan lost his right leg and suffered serious injuries to his left leg. He was taken to the Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital from where he was shifted to the SGPGIMS where a surgery was performed on Saturday, he said.
Dhull confirmed that several purported videos of the incident have gone viral and police are trying to obtain the mobile clips and pictures. These will help police to establish the sequence of events, he said.
Interacting with reporters, a local, who identified himself as Mohammad Shanu, claimed that the victim lost his leg after being hit by a train when he was collecting his weighing scale thrown on the tracks by police during an anti-encroachment drive.
The victim's father Saleem, an auto-rickshaw driver, told media persons that his son's leg were severed on the spot.
A vegetable vendor thrown on Rail track by police. Gets run over by train & loses his legs. A a stray incident police brutality? No. An un-empathetic system fails to help poor earn livelihood wth dignity. Then acts so cruelly? @PMOIndia; https://t.co/iHpOGc7TZr via @YouTube;— Jitendra Kumar Ojha (@Ojha_Jkumar) December 3, 2022