This story is originally published in AltNews, the non-profit fact checking website and a website licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Read original story here.
On November 9, Yati Narsinghanad disciple Suresh Rajput uploaded a video on Facebook about AIMIM chief Asaddudin Owaisi, where he referred to Muslims as “pigs” and termed the violence against the minority Muslim population in Tripura as “Diwali”. In less than 24 hours, the video garnered close to 2 lakh views.
Five days before uploading this video, Rajput had uploaded another video on his Facebook account with his associate Rahul Sharma where the duo threatened to shoot Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The video was taken down by Facebook after social media outrage.
But this wasn’t the first time Rajput had publicly threatened the CM. In February, Rajput, who goes by “Hindu Sher Boy” on YouTube, had uploaded a video with his associate Malik Sehrawat in which they threatened to shoot Kejriwal and kill and evict Muslims in Mangolpuri.
There are Facebook Lives where Rajput is branding Muslims as “terrorists” and farmers as “Khalistanis”. He is requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deploy the army on the Singhu border. In another Live from October, he gave the Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli a “Muslims getup” for his stance against bursting firecrackers on Diwali. While abusing Kohli in the video and asking his viewers to thrash “people of his kind”, the Live has also been used to spread hate against the Muslim community.
Ironically in a Live about “Hindu-Muslim brotherhood”, Rajput says that Hindus should be allowed to celebrate Navratri and offer bhajans inside mosques since “seculars” allow Muslims to offer namaz in temples. He then instigates his viewers to thrash “seculars” who follow “one-sided brotherhood”.
The aforementioned videos are accessible on Facebook on Rajput’s profile. Facebook has neither taken down these videos nor suspended Rajput.
Facebook’s response to Suresh Rajput’s hate speech
Alt News had emailed several videos of Rajput to Facebook where he could be seen spreading hatred against the Muslim community. Facebook took down most of these links and responded, “We have removed pieces of content that were in violation of our Community Standards. We don’t allow hate speech on our platform, and we remove it when we find it or are made aware of it. We’re investing heavily in people and technology to help us find and remove this content quickly, but if people see something on Facebook which they think violates these rules we encourage them to report it to us, so we can take action. We know our enforcement is not perfect and there is more work to do, but our regular transparency reports show we are making progress combating these issues.”
But Facebook did not suspend Rajput.
“We do progressive reviews and put restrictions on accounts when they violate. When the account meets the threshold to disable, we take final action,” was the social media giant’s response when questioned about its failure to deplatform Rajput.
According to Facebook, he did not “meet the threshold” to be suspended. Yet there are videos of him openly inciting violence against Muslims and promoting a boycott of the community.
Rajput’s videos are amplified via other accounts and pages as well — SureshHinduboy, Suresh Hindu and Hindu sher boy fans — and these also continue to exist on Facebook.
In fact, his associate Prabhu Nishad’s account has also not been suspended. Nishad regularly shares Rajput’s videos and his own.
The video below drew close to 80,000 views. It shows Rajput in an angry rant against a theatre artist Danish Khan who played the role of Ram in Ramlila. Rajput uses offensive language for Khan and accuses Muslims of mass conversions. He also abuses Aaj Tak for a broadcast where the channel reported that Khan was threatened in his locality for playing Ram’s role. “The gatekeepers of Sanatana Dharma will decide who gets to play the role of Ram, not news channels…You live in this country and eat meat and beef. How can you play the role of Ram?” Rajput says.
He is a follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.
Facebook’s response to these users is not in tandem with its policy on hate speech. “We believe that people use their voice and connect more freely when they don’t feel attacked on the basis of who they are. That is why we don’t allow hate speech on Facebook,” reads the first sentence of the policy that forbids violent speech, dehumanising posts (referring to Muslims as “pigs”) and content targeting protected categories among a plethora of other restrictions.
Facebook’s complete policy on hate speech can be read here.
Suresh Rajput has violated the regulation on multiple counts — violent speech or support in written or visual form; dehumanising speech or imagery (referring to Muslims as “pigs”); derogatory terms related to sexual activity (Muslims women have been portrayed as sexually deviant people who bear multiple children of different men); self-admission to intolerance on the basis of protected characteristics, including, but not limited to: homophobic, islamophobic, racist; expressions of hate, including, but not limited to: despise, hate.
Suresh Rajput also used to circulate objectionable content among lakhs of people on YouTube. Unlike Facebook, the video streaming platform took down his channels when alerted by Alt News.
Violation of YouTube’s policy on hate speech
Suresh Rajput operated under the name “Hindu Sher boy” on YouTube. While the subscriber count of the channel was hidden (according to a June article in The Wire, his YouTube channel had 4.6 lakh followers), the extent of his popularity could be gauged by the millions of views his videos received.
In February 2020, Rajput uploaded a video where he referred to AIMIM spokesperson Waris Pathan as “K*** Mulla” (a derogatory slang used for Muslims), members of the Muslim community as “pigs” and alluded that Muslim women who protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were “prostitutes”. He also threatened Pathan with violence.
The video had over 1 million views.
In another video from 2019, where he targeted AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi, he termed members of the Muslim community “jihadis” and used racist slurs against Owaisi. This video also had over 1 million views.
In a recent video, Rajput targeted prominent Muslim actors of Bollywood — Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Aamir Khan. He began the video by instigating his viewers to boycott Shahrukh Khan’s movie “Pathan” and went on an Islamophobic rant against the Pathan community in Afghanistan. He later called for a complete economic boycott of the Muslim actors. He also blameed the actors for the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Rajput had also uploaded the video targeting actor Danish Khan on YouTube. His channel was filled with such content.
According to YouTube’s policy, hate speech is not allowed on the platform, and this includes comparing people with animals and promoting violence and hatred against protected groups. Suresh Rajput had violated YouTube guidelines on several counts.
“We take the safety of our users very seriously, and we have strict policies that prohibit hate and harassment on YouTube, including content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups. We apply these policies consistently across all languages and regions regardless of the uploader. Any flagged content found to violate our policies is removed from YouTube immediately…We can confirm that the channel “Hindu Sher boy” has been terminated for violation of our Hate Speech policy,” responded YouTube in an email to Alt News.
On November 17, Rajput made a new channel under the same name “Hindu Sher boy” which was also terminated by YouTube once informed by Alt News via email. “YouTube has always had clear community guidelines that outline what is allowed on the platform. “Hindu Sher boy” was terminated for violation of our Hate Speech policy. During this time, they used another channel and therefore we terminated it for circumvention of our policies as per our Terms of Service,” responded YouTube.
He runs another YouTube channel called “Hindu Parivar” which also overflows with hate-filled videos targeting the Muslim community. This channel has been in existence since August 2021 and wasn’t terminated by YouTube, however, certain restrictions have been applied to the channel.
“We have applied a strike against the channel, removed one video for violation of our policy on harassment and bullying from the channel and further age-restricted two videos (link, link) for violence and graphic content. In cases where content doesn’t violate our policies but may not be appropriate for all audiences, we may place an age restriction on the video when we’re notified of the content,” responded YouTube.
While Google-owned YouTube terminated one of Rajput’s channels, Facebook failed to suspend the multiple pages and accounts he uses to circulate hateful content targeting Muslims. Facebook only took down a few of his videos and did not provide a reasonable explanation to allow him to continue on the platform.
The social media giant has been making headlines the past few weeks after the revelations made by the former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen. According to leaked documents obtained by the Associated Press, Facebook in India has not only failed to check hate speech but has also been selective in curbing the same, especially inflammatory posts targeting the minority Muslim community.
Internal staff memos which are part of the disclosures made to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and provided to the US Congress in redacted form by the legal counsel of Haugen revealed that Facebook did not have “even basic key work detection set up to catch” potential hate speech. Several red flags concerning polarising content and hate speech in India were deemed “not a problem” by Facebook and its Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools failed to detect vernacular languages. This is evident from Facebook’s biased treatment of Hindi content.
YouTube, on the other hand, has not been under the scanner as much as Facebook. Hate speech also flourishes on the video streaming platform. YouTube typically has a three-strikes policy before taking down a channel and nearly every video uploaded by Suresh Rajput violates its policy. YouTube has claimed to have applied one strike against his new channel “Hindu Parivar”. Furthermore, the platform also took down the new channel he started under the same name “Hindu Sher boy”.
Myopic policies and a lackadaisical approach of tech giants to curb hate speech in India negatively affect the country’s minority Muslim population. Suresh Rajput occupies a prominent space on Facebook and the company’s refusal to suspend him is evidence of its unwillingness to tackle the problem.