Facebook has been discriminating Bangladeshi secular activists for the last couple of year. We are not entirely sure whether it is systemically happening or not. From our observation, there are two options.
Either it is systemic discrimination or a problem with the reporting system. On both cases, the issues need to resolve.
An abundant example is that many activists shared the photos and videos of the genocide of 1971, and these contents were removed in several grounds. We understand the necessity to proscribe violent images and anything that degrades human rights, but history is different. It is a sheer necessity to make people aware of brutal paste. So, the past does not repeat itself. Unfortunately, many secular Bangladeshi activists have been banned and restricted under this ground without considering the context. However, we presume that Facebook understands these circumstances but still kept denying the contents and banning activists. We are afraid that it is a tendentious job by some Facebook employees. There are some reasons for this presumption. First, we observe that many local Islamic preachers tend to disseminate hatred against religious minorities, but the Facebook authority rarely hindered them. Second, one Bangladeshi activist who often resonates with populist political Islamic ideology was quite pompous about his affiliation with the Facebook authority. He even openly declared many times to ban people and not surprisingly, he was successful almost every time. If needed, we are ready to hand over these shreds of evidence to the Facebook authority.
We also understand the language barrier Facebook and its employees are facing. Still, we cannot condone the hypocrisy where secular activists are often stumbling because of the Facebook community standard, while fundamentalists are free to roam on Facebook. They are using this platform to express their hatred toward the Hindus, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and atheists. We, the secular activists, feel the responsibility to promulgate counter-narrative against hate and discrimination. We do not seek privileges but parity to protect people from ignorance and radical ideologies, and dissonance.
We also believe modern technologies such as social media has some negative aspect. It has engendered and fueled many radical ideologies all over the globe. Many of these ideologies and their supporters tend to exterminate the opposite voice, particularly anything different. They are as much as organized in Bangladesh as in the USA. Even though they share enmity towards each other, but their propensity, goals, tactics reverberate. Especially in Bangladesh, if they want to strangle someone’s voice, they tend to report their posts and profiles. Most of the time, it worked for them. We feel that we must debunk the arguments which are often full of rage and hatred. However, it is not a cinch because of Facebook’s biased actions against secular activists.
Moreover, considering the patterns of discrimination and the impunity of fundamentalist Islamic preachers of Bangladesh, it is most likely that some employees of Facebook are inclined to Islamic political parties. Logically, this could be the only reason why the secular voices are suppressed, and the preachers of hatred and their supporters are enjoying indefinite freedom on Facebook. We believe that Facebook should check such employees’ activity logs and find anomalies if there is any.
There is systemic propaganda against the minorities in Bangladesh, especially against Hindus. It is akin to the propaganda against the Jews during the Nazi era in Europe. It has become much easier for such activists and preachers to promulgate hatred and violence because of Facebook and other social media. In the recent past, there were some coordinated attacks against Hindus and Buddhists organized on Facebook. We want to cooperate with the Facebook authority to abate and impede such heinous crime from happening again.
Therefore, we urge Facebook to reconsider its policy towards secular activists, causing discrimination and facilitating radical ideologies. We are also requesting the authority to investigate to determine if some Facebook employees are behind these activities.