Facebook seems to be the talk of the town. Yesterday we saw how freedom of expression was suppressed for 2 girls who were charged for breaking law by posting on Facebook and liking the post. Today we have an entirely different case where a Lucknow based lawyer and social activist has filed a FIR against Facebook after his profile was blocked as reported by Times of India.
The report was filed at the ‘cyber crime cell’ of the Lucknow Police by Prince Lenin, who is a lawyer and social activist and resident of Hussainganj. In his FIR, the victim has said that Facebook had recently blocked his profile without informing him the reasons which he considers to be a “one sided and unfair action.”
Before filing the FIR, Lenin had brought the issue in front of Facebook’s grievance team but to his surprise he was informed that there were several complaints pending against him, from other users who have reported about his Facebook page. This didn’t come as a surprise to Lenin since he alleges that the complaints that might have been raised are all related to his work. He considers that there are people who are not happy with his work in the social sector and he uses Facebook to highlight the wrong doings which is the reason for the complaints against him.
Can Facebook block you without giving you notice?
Firstly, it is not clear whether the account has been disabled or suspended. In case of disabled, there is a clause clearly stated by Facebook that on certain violations the network may not issue a warning before disabling the account. These could be related to hate speech, bullying, nudity, identity, intellectual property, etc. Check the complete list here. And in certain cases Facebook has strict policy of not restoring the account.
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How effective is the FIR?
This is not the first time that someone has issued a FIR from India and that too on Facebook. In the beginning of the year, we had witnessed a private complaint was filed by journalist Vinay Rai against 21 companies including Facebook. Later on Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi, an Islamic researcher linked to a website run by the Islamic Peace Foundation of India, had filed a case against Facebook India seeking removal of objectionable content from various websites. The cases are pending. However, the case of Lenin and these two may not be of the same degree but it is not that easy to file a case against Facebook since its headquarters are based outside India. Moreover, in Lenin’s case the network has the rights to block as stated clearly in its site.
There has been no update on the news so far but it seems unlikely to be taken further.
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