In the Lok Sabha elections 2019 run-up in January, BJP flagged a list of 44 pages on Facebook, that opposed to the party, alleging they were “in violation of expected standards” and had posts that were “not in line with facts.’ Consequently, 14 of these are no longer on the platform.
Pages flagged by the BJP included the official account of the Bhim Army, a satire site “We Hate BJP”, unauthorized Congress-supporting pages, and a page called “The Truth of Gujarat” that posted Alt News fact checks. Of the pages taken down, many were are sites that supported journalists Ravish Kumar and Vinod Dua.
Last year, the BJP also asked Facebook India to reinstate 17 deleted pages and “monetize” two right-wing news websites — The Chaupal and OpIndia. The 17 pages are all back on the platform. Facebook told BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya that the pages were taken down “erroneously”.
The founder of “The Chaupal” Vikas Pandey said that his site has not been allowed monetization after Facebook revoked its monetization in March 2019. The 17 pages restored by Facebook India on BJP’s appeal currently share content almost completely from Postcard News, many in Kannada. None of these pages are directly labelled as pages connected to any political party.
One of the 17 pages wrote about Postcard News founder Mahesh V Hegde. Hegde was arrested in Bangalore in March 2018 on charges of encouraging communal hatred and abusing religious sentiments by posting “fake news”, according to the local police.