Facebook created a controversy, though briefly, when it blocked a hashtag calling for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resign.

The hashtag calling for the resignation was briefly blocked on Facebook on Wednesday, hiding more than 12,000 posts critical of the Indian government as the coronavirus pandemic spirals out of control in the country.

Facebook users in India noted on Twitter that the hashtag #ResignModi had been blocked from view on Facebook.

Users searching the hashtag were given a message that said such posts were “temporarily hidden here” because “some content in those posts goes against our Community Standards”.

A couple of hours later, the hashtag was again accessible on Facebook from the US, and a Facebook spokesperson confirmed it had been restored after a brief outage that was “accidental.”

“We temporarily blocked this hashtag by mistake, not because the Indian government asked us to, and have since restored it,” the spokesperson said.

The blocking of the #ResignModi hashtag comes after Twitter faced criticism for deleting more than 50 tweets critical of the Indian administration’s handling of the pandemic after a legal request by the Indian government. Facebook and Instagram had already blocked a number of posts about Modi on the orders of the government, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Facebook India has previously faced criticism after a journal report in August revealed connections between a top Indian policy employee and Modi’s BJP. That employee resigned after sharing a Facebook post that called India’s Muslims a “degenerate community” for whom “nothing except purity of religion and implementation of Shariah matter”.

The now-reinstated Facebook hashtag #ResignModi currently shows the horrors of the coronavirus pandemic in India, where hospitals are overflowing with dead and dying people.


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