In a shocking incident, a social activist, Mohd Abuzar, woke up to find on September 13, 2020 that his Facebook account had been suspended. He came to know of this after he received numerous calls from friends and relatives, who, wanting to communicate with him, received a strange message that he had died, asking them to pay their tributes Abuzar.
In an email alert to Counterview, Abuzar says, on logging in, the message which he got was: “Account unavailable. This account is in a special memorialised state. If you have any questions, please visit the help centre for more information.” The account could be retrieved on October 23, more than a month later, only after he sent a legal notice to Facebook’s India subsidiary.
Belonging to the well-known human rights organization, Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, well-known as Anhad, which is headed by top social activist Shabnam Hashmi, Abuzar says, failed to retrieve his account for more than a month even though he followed all the instructions provided by Facebook, including uploading a photograph with a government ID.
Finding no positive result, Abuzar says, he sent a legal notice dated October 19 to Facebook through advocate Chaus Abdul Aziz stating that it it did not restore his account with an appropriate apology, and paid compensation to the tune of Rs 5 lakh for the “trauma” caused to him by the Facebook, he would take the top social media company to court. Only thereafter this his account was restored on on October 23 with an apology mail.
Pointing out that Facebook in India is handled by Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd, which is registered under the companies Act as a subsidiary of “a foreign company Facebook Inc”, the legal notice quotes its mission as saying, “Our mission is to give people the power to share and to make the world more open and connected. We want everyone to feel safe when using Facebook. We work with external experts, including a Safety Advisory Board, and gather feedback from our community to develop policies, tools and resources to keep you safe.”
Abuzar’s Facebook account, begun in 2010, has 4,600 friends and more than 700 followers, the legal notice says, Abuzar even tweeted to Facebook to restore his account, which also didn’t work. Only thereafter he decided to send the legal notice, calling the Facebook move abrupt, whimsical and arbitrary “with malafide intent”, insisting, the real purpose appeared to be to “violate” of the “right of freedom of speech under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India.”