Since late 2017, as the social media companies got surefooted of their stranglehold over conversations in India, views of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma have met with censorship increasingly, which the people are waking up to lately. It is an open secret that social media platforms generally tend to censor, or restrict, conversations positive to Hindus only — whether it is in the matter of rites and rituals, as in the current example, or historical-political debates on the question of genocide and oppression of Hindus at the hands of Islamic, and Islam-motivated invaders.
Hindus are in no doubt now that it is a cold war for an en masse cultural disintegration. Those who want to deny or disprove this should very well have an answer to the question as to how only posts related to dharma suffer in the name of cultural appropriation and secularism. This is happening in a country that is also home to the Hindu people as well as the Hindu religion (or Hindu congregation of religions).
The latest example of one such battle against Hinduism can be seen on a YouTube channel named “Chidambaram Sri Natarajar Temple Devasabha”. The admin of the channel uploaded an innocuous video of a few dikshitars (Vedic Shaiva Brahmins of Tamil Nadu) who were seen chanting a Nataraja Stotram. YouTube flagged the video for age-inappropriate content! How on earth can Shiva/Nataraja Stotra be considered as an inappropriate video, unless the platform is solely operating on a religious bias?
This shadowban or underhanded restriction is not limited to just YouTube. It is prevalent on various other social media platforms too — especially Facebook. It is completely hypocritical; it reeks of double standards.
In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg had said that Facebook would not remove any content of denial of Jewish holocaust though he personally found it disturbing. The World Jewish Congress had urged Facebook to remove any content that denied the Jewish holocaust. This free speech stance was despite the fact that Facebook itself acknowledged the prevalence of pathological anti-Semitism that is Holocaust denial. Monika Bickert, VP of content policy, Facebook published an article titled “Removing Holocaust Denial Content” on 12 October 2020 wherein she made it clear that as per a survey, “US adults aged 18-39, almost a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure.”
Let that sink in. The same social media company that allows Holocaust denial — essentially fake news peddling and gaslighting of arguably the most known and acknowledged genocide of the world — is notorious also for regularly curtailing free speech of Hindus trying to voice their plights.
Hindus have already been through more than a thousand years of Muslim and other foreign invasions, and as if that were not enough already, we still have to strive to protect our own rituals and customs, in our own land. And social media does not make the job any easier for us. It is an open secret that the social media is not secular, but works on the same exclusivist modus operandi that is a characteristic of “My Way or the Highway” theology.
Any Facebook post that tends to have an extensive reach, but is not a ‘secular’ enough post gets lost in the ocean of algorithm. People who regularly post about Hinduism without being secular are banned at the drop of a hat, even when they stay miles within constitutional limits. On the other hand, people from other religions openly calling for violence on social media but are seldom banned at all.
It’s not like us contemporary Hindus are at no fault for our social media predicament. A typical Hindu signs in social media to only chill and relax, after his hard day of corporate slavery, before he retires to bed. A representative “other”, on the other hand, actively reports as “hate speech” anything remotely Hindu, or sympathetic to them, that he sees on his news feed. Resultantly, the public space for anything Hindu shrinks. So much so, on the world of AI and algorithms that any post promoting Hinduism is either automatically penalized by the algorithm, or has to be restricted due to consensus.
A civilisation survives on its generations which have been nurtured in the womb of their cultures and customs. For the sleeping Hindus, however, who barely go to the temple and “do not believe in love jihad”, these are all just another conspiracy theories- as long as they are safe. And when they realize that they’re not, it’s too late by then, like in the poem ‘First they came for the Jews’.
The above-cited example of the survey finding that US citizens do not know about, or deny outright, the Jewish holocaust is but a pale foreshadowing of what would happen to us Hindus in the coming years. A normal Hindu in today’s time barely knows their gotra or any Stotra of any deity- we’ll die out many times faster than Jews when the rubber hits the road. Slowly, ignorance has been seeping in the Hindu culture that is obsessed with making Hinduism “modern” — not in terms of Hinduism, but blind modernity.
The social media is the only place left perhaps where the young generation can stumble upon their fast losing customs and culture and so that place is a matter of target now by the anti-Hindu coalitions. The social media collective should reflect on their liability to the Hindus if they are truly secular and responsible. Otherwise, it’s time for Hindus to start looking for alternatives to them as well.
With inputs from Mrinaal Prem Swarroop Srivastava