Facebook recently blocked an account which regularly posts updates on the issues being faced by marginalised groups in India, particularly Africans. This account, which goes by the name Un-fair Web, was blocked when a group of people who had been receiving death threats after Gauri Lankesh’s murder, began collecting and sharing the numbers of the senders of these threats, and discussing further modes of action.
The account never posted any content which espoused hate but was known for sharing and writing about issues which went partially or at times completely unreported. It was also a useful resource for journalists to get additional information and contacts and has helped websites such as The Hindu, Scroll.in, The Wire, and NewsClick, amongst others.
One of the owners of Un-fair Web made the following post on his personal account following Facebook’s block:
Un-Fair Web is designed as an Identity - a 'Skin' that discusses issues relating to prejudice and discrimination based on Skin, Colour, Race and Caste.
On September 17, 2017, Un-Fair received a private ‘direct message’ with an image – a screenshot of a ‘WhatsApp’ message. This was a death threat post the murder of Bangalore journalist Gauri Lankesh. Maintaining the student's anonymity and verifying the messages authenticity, Un-Fair Web began posting about this on September 18, 2017. It is after this initial post, that Un-Fair Web began receiving similar image-messages from various other journalists, activists and students. Various concerned people began tracking these cell phone numbers and began sharing the finds. Slowly, an aggregation of voices towards a joint complaint and FIR through the Cyber Investigative Cell, TRAI, etc (web-links were shared)… was taking shape.
Around 10:00 PM on the 18th, Un-Fair Web was blocked and expunged by FaceBook. All posts, data and messages from Un-Fair Web either as private ‘Direct Messages’ or ‘comments’ on FaceBook walls have been censored, made invisible and erased.
WhatsApp Death Threats In The Wake Of Gauri Lankesh Murder
As requested by FaceBook, persons connected with the project have submitted PAN Card and Passport Scans yet Un-Fair Web and the data collected through public sharing, now remain inaccessible.
Un-Fair began documenting cases of violence against the African diaspora for over two years. Since August 2015 we began tracing the initial event: the beating up and two-year long coma, of YANNICK NIHANGAZA.
In our attempts to understand similar and multiple events of violence, we continued research on issues of Skin, Colour, Race and Caste. It is this sharing of research, data and finding that gave rise to a Blog and the Identity on FaceBook – Un-Fair Web. Further given the non-sponsorship or funding by any institution or individual this became the only medium available to share in a non-ownership mode, since January 2017 (how can one profit on images, texts and videos of people being beaten up, shamed and tortured or by even professing one's own ignorance of their existence) with responsibility.
Un-Fair Web has been a community platform and voice for people that mainstream media and citizens of this country reject, obliterate and socially discriminated against, daily through every waking and conscious moment 24x7, 365 days of the year. This could be stripping of an innocent Tanzania girl in Bangalore, beating to death a boy in Kishangarh, Delhi, or having an entire community raided in the middle of the night by an elected government labelling them prostitutes and drug dealers – at Khirkhee Extension; today this means mid-night knocking on their doors asking for papers by men in uniform, as in Hyderabad, frivolous activities of smacking people in the back of their heads with cricket bats as you go down the road on your motorcycle in Jaipur, calling them cannibals and murderers, confiscating their passports and publicly beating them across an entire city of Greater Noida. These are only a few of the incidents. Add to this the various name-calling, solicitations, Metro Train incidents, etc… as one walks down the road to buy over-priced food, transport and rent and further telling Africa about this wonderful thing called the Green Revolution of Punjab that can feed the world.
While most of our near acquaintances question our intentions, as we are all not ‘black’ or ‘Dalit, Bahujan or Adivasi’ and we constantly find ourselves being ‘black-balled’ by friends and society for sharing and professing these views and now faced with a societal ostracization affecting our means and modes of daily sustenance. Immense pressure is being constantly applied to make the work and voice copyrightable and owned and taken away from a community of people. Today we find all that a community has spoken – ERASED.
Our friends, journalists, artists, performers, curators still silent and with claims to be not political and objective. All we say is with every ‘WORD’ you write and profess a politic, there are a million, nay a billion you do not say, erase, obliterate and annihilate.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick.