New Delhi, Sep 29: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Prime Minister Narendra Modi share a great bonhomie. How could one forget the tight hug with which Modi embraced Zuckerberg during their hugely publicised Townhall meeting in the fall of 2015?
Modi's "love" for the social networking giant is no secret as he had several engagements with Facebook since the time he became the PM.
Earlier this year, the PM found a special mention as Zuckerberg put forth Facebook's vision for the coming years.
Talking about how citizens are engaging with their government beyond the ballot box, Zuckerberg said, "Beyond voting, the greatest opportunity is helping people stay engaged with the issues that matter to them every day, not just every few years at the ballot box. We can help establish direct dialogue and accountability between people and our elected leaders. In India, Prime Minister Modi has asked his ministers to share their meetings and information on Facebook so they can hear direct feedback from citizens."
So, we know Modi and Zuckerberg belong to the mutual admiration club. Amid all these showering of love and admiration, when Facebook decided to block the account of freelance journalist Mohammad Anas from posting anything for 30 days on the social networking site after he posted "Kamal ka phool hamari bhool", many felt that it was "unjustified" and condemned the "ban" in strong words.
The phrase, "Kamal ka phool hamari bhool", can be loosely translated into English as "Lotus flower is our mistake", indicating that those who have voted for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) (party's symbol is lotus flower) in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 have committed a mistake.
Those who opposed the ban on Anas said that the freelancer journalist did not violate any laws and his post was not at all offensive.
On Tuesday, Anas (29) on Facebook posted this message: "Vyapari apne cash memo par print karva kar janta se bata rahe hain ki BJP ko vote dekar galti ho gayi (Traders are admitting their mistake of voting for the BJP by printing this on their cash memo)", along with a photo of a receipt.
The photo is said to have originated in Surat, Gujarat, and has been in circulation online since a few days. Many say, the small traders of Gujarat, who have protested against the Modi government over the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as it badly affected their businesses are behind the creation of the receipt.
The receipt with the anti-BJP message is seen by many as a bad publicity for the saffron party, especially at a time when the home state of Modi, Gujarat, will host Assembly elections soon.
Anas told Hindustan Times that hours after he posted the "controversial" message he received a message from Facebook that they have removed his post as it "did not follow the community standards".
Later, he got another notification stating that his account has been blocked from posting anything for 30 days.
"I did not say anything on my own. I just shared a photograph and quoted what was mentioned in it. There was nothing objectionable in it," Anas said.
This is the fourth time Anas' account has been suspended from Facebook. "I have never used any abusive language, nor have I abused anyone, but similar posts that were critical of the government are being removed. This is Facebook fascism," he added.
Many have criticised Facebook for taking a "harsh and illogical" decision by targeting a man's "freedom of speech".
After Anas' account was blocked many in solidarity with the freelance journalist posted the message "Kamal ka phool hamari bhool". "We are with you Mohammad Anas bhai (brother)," read a Facebook post.