Social Media Corporations Must End their Complicity in Silencing & Censoring Kashmiri Voices Online.

Social media corporations such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have continually engaged in the silencing of Kashmiri voices in the digital space by removing content, suspending user accounts, and engaging in algorithmic manipulation of content critical of India’s military occupation and settler-colonialism in the region.

Digital censorship of Kashmir

Kashmiri Voices Are Silenced Across Social Media

The advent of social media has dramatically transformed the realm of political activism in Indian-occupied Kashmir. However, freedoms of speech and expression of Kashmiri people inside Kashmir as well as outside Kashmir are heavily suppressed by India. Platforms have sided with India’s colonial regime in Kashmir and are complicit in the erasure of Kashmiri digital rights and ongoing digital blackout of Kashmir.


Kashmiri users said they were censored in different ways – users’ accounts were disabled, suspended, and permanently deleted. Users said their account privileges were restricted or account content was removed.


Facebook and Twitter have continually sided with the Indian authorities’ weaponization of law and policy to curb Kashmir-related reportage and activism in the digital space. 


In 2018, David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of expression and opinion wrote to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey about the company’s decision to censor Kashmiri-related content and profiles as indicative of accession to “government demands for content and account removals.”


Digital censorship of Kashmir

Corporations Are Siding With The Fascist Indian Government To Censor Kashmir

In one instance, documents leaked to the New York Times by Facebook employees revealed the company monitors political speech globally using a set of biased rules which favor governments and the far right. In an overt government-friendly strategy, Facebook rules instruct moderators to censor content with the phrase “Free Kashmir” and deem content that calls for an independent Kashmir illegal in India.


In a leaked internal review on the rise of online censorship, Google employees noted how Facebook and Twitter “were implicated in the censorship of clashes between rebels and Indian authorities in Kashmir…highlighting the platform’s complicity with government censorship.”

How StandwithKashmir Is Heavily Censored:

Platforms have persistently censored StandWithKashmir’s (SWK) Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts since August 2019 when the Indian government first imposed a communications blackout to control narratives of India’s potential annexation of Kashmir. In September 2019, SWK’s Facebook account was blocked from sharing any links. 


Since March 2021 SWK’s Facebook and Instagram accounts cannot be accessed by users in Kashmir and India who form roughly half of the account audience. Additionally, the reach of its Facebook account has been restricted such that posts which were earlier organically able to reach eight thousand to ten thousand people are now only able to reach only two thousand or so people. 


Similarly, Instagram too has restricted SWK’s account since its formation – simply creating the account took the activist involved three attempts, multiple correspondences with the company and advocacy through activist’s personal networks – a privilege many groups do not have access to. Soon after the account was created in August 2019, the account’s captioning privileges were taken away. A few days later, the account could not be seen in fifty-three countries around the world. Since October 2019, Twitter has sent SWK’s handle multiple notices of its being in violation of India’s Information Technology Act. Twitter then suspended SWK’s account in December 2020 and March 2021. As with Facebook and Instagram, an analysis of the account data suggests Twitter has restricted SWK’s account reach since March 2021.

Digital censorship of Kashmir
Digital censorship of Kashmir

Our Demands:

We urgently call upon social media corporations to do the following…


» Immediately reinstate all content removed and accounts suspended in violation of international norms of freedom of expression.


» Undertake a human-rights impact assessment of the situation in Kashmir that takes into account India’s military occupation of Kashmir, its human-rights record in the region in particular its history of blockading tele-communications services and its curtailment of Kashmiri people’s political speech and expression. Such an assessment must inform the corporation’s policies, products, programs and partnerships in the region with regard to the protection of freedom of expression and protection of privacy.


» Investigate reports pointing to Indian government and political parties’ long-standing use of “IT cells” for creating disinformation and suppressing marginalized populations in the digital space by trolling and mass-reporting accounts. Disinformation and troll accounts must be removed from the platforms.


» Hire fact-checkers to look at content pertaining to Kashmir with a human rights and anti-occupation lens.


» Make publicly available detailed information on content or removal requests by the Indian government or actors affiliated with it including the number of requests received, the nature of the request and the corporation’s response to the request.


» Provide transparency on the restriction or removal of user’s content related to Kashmir based on their current Community Standards or Policy. Social media companies must establish exactly what portion of the content violated its Community Standards or Policy on a case-by-case basis.


» Suspend the use of AI mechanisms for review of Kashmir-related content and form Ethics Committees of independent Kashmiri researchers, scholars and civil society groups with expertise in human-rights and international law, to review content removal and restrictions related to Kashmir, subject to data privacy and protection requirements. Such a committee should also look at the effectiveness and fairness of current redressal mechanisms made available by the corporations with a view to regaining the trust of censored users.


» Corporations must designate specific staff members for conducting outreach with civil society groups and advocacy organizations in an issue-specific and need-based manner. Outreach staff must have training in human rights to understand the complexities of a particular issue and gauge community needs.


» Increase investment in Hindi-language and Hinglish content moderation and create a database of hate speech and Islamophobic terminology that harms Kashmiris and marginalized populations in India.

Here Is How You Can Help!

1. Tweet about the censorship on Kashmir by copying these pre-written tweets below:



@Facebook, @TwitterSupport, & @InstagramComms are silencing Kashmiri voices online by removing content, suspending user accounts & engaging in algorithmic manipulation of content critical of India’s military #occupation & #settlercolonialism in the region. #StopCensoringKashmir

Social media corporations must end their complicity in the ongoing digital occupation of #Kashmiri voices both inside and outside indian-occupied Kashmir. @instagramcomms @mosseri @jack #StopCensoringKashmir 

@Facebook, @TwitterSupport, & @InstagramComms must reinstate affected content and accounts, provide transparency into why content was removed and fulfill their human-rights obligations to people living in the world’s most militarized region. #StopCensoringKashmir #FreeKashmir 



2. Get your organization to sign our statement.



3. Share & amplify this campaign.



Share this campaign page’s link along with the following graphics below:

Digital censorship of KashmirDigital censorship of Kashmir



4. Cover this story if you’re a journalist or a creative. 



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