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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New Delhi (PTI): Several opposition party leaders on Tuesday held a protest in the corridors of Parliament House and raised slogans demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani issue.
They also hung a banner that read "We want JPC" from the first floor of Parliament building.
TMC MPs held a separate protest in Parliament complex and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi break his silence on the Adani issue.
Accusing the government of helping businessman Gautam Adani by not ordering a probe into allegations of fraud levelled against his group, the party demanded that Adani be arrested.
Leaders of opposition parties had earlier met in Parliament complex and decided to press for a JPC probe into the Adani issue.
Leaders of opposition parties, including the Congress, DMK, RJD, CPI-M, CPI, NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT), JDU, JMM, IUML, AAP, MDMK, attended the meeting in the chamber of Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge.
Both houses of Parliament were adjourned till 2 pm Tuesday amid uproar over the Adani issue and demand by ruling party members that Rahul Gandhi apologise for his democracy remarks.
"This morning Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, @kharge ji was given permission by the Chairman to speak. He got up to do so but was not allowed by sloganeering BJP MPs. Chairman then adjourned RS. How can the logjam be broken if Modi Govt behaves like this," AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter after the House was adjourned.
The opposition parties have been demanding a JPC probe into the Adani Group issue, saying only a JPC can bring out the truth in the matter, after US based Hindenburg Research report made allegations of financial irregularities and stock manipulation by the Adani Group.
The Adani group has denied the allegations and said no wrongdoing has been done by it.