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Social media platforms Instagram and Facebook drew flak after they blocked #Sikh and #Sikhism on both platforms for almost six months. After unblocking the hashtags, the company apologized saying that it mistakenly blocked them. This incident happened in March 2020. 

Responding to this, Instagram said, “Thanks for your patience today. We investigated this issue and found that these hashtags were mistakenly blocked on March 7th following a report that was inaccurately reviewed by our teams,”

Instagram could not explain the unusual activity that was related to this particular hashtag, nor did they clarify exactly why the hashtag was removed. Even though the hashtag was been disabled for three months, Instagram only got to know about it after the worldwide campaign highlighting the hashtag ban. They apologized and said that they got to know that the hashtags were blocked after receiving feedback from the community. So, they took immediate steps to unblock it.

Outrage against the hashtag ban 

On Twitter, a large number of users vented their frustration at the fact that the hashtag was disabled. This incident received significantly more attention than usual in June 2020, as it marked the anniversary of Operation Blue Star. According to Gadgets360's report, the action was taken more precisely after Rupi Kaur called out the firm, and Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, responded to her criticism.

Politicians, musicians, and celebrities who identify as Sikh started using the two sites as hashtags in tweets and posts to voice their displeasure with what they perceived to be discriminatory behavior. In a statement, the Sikh Press Association posted, 

Why has Instagram blocked the hashtag #Sikh @instagram @mosseri? In the same week that #Neverforget1984 trends on Twitter, Instagram seemingly conspires to suppress the truth about the atrocities of the 1984 Sikh genocide by censoring the faith of 27 million people.”

Another post read, 

#Sikh is being hidden on Instagram when you click on it. You can’t even search for it. It’s no coincidence that this is happening in the month of June. On the 36th anniversary of the Sikh Genocide. @instagram.

Restoration of the hashtag 

A lot of such posts started appearing on social media channels. In response to the criticism that was expressed, Instagram stated that it was unclear how exactly the block was applied and why it took the firm so long to realize what had happened.

In response to one of these tweets, the CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said, “Not sure what’s going on here, but we’re looking into it and will circle back.” After a short while, the hashtag was brought back on Instagram. In a later statement, he also mentioned that they are ‘investigating why this happened.”

In another statement, Instagram’s communication team posted on 3rd June 2020, that it was extremely significant and difficult for the Sikh community. Hashtags were created so that users may interact with one another and share information with one another. They added saying that they had no intention of ever stifling the views of this community, but to prevent something like this from happening again, they will take appropriate precautions.

Instagram also noted that it is an important time for Sikhs right now and that it was not their intention to suppress the voices of this group. However, they did say that it was their "intention to silence the voices of this community. 

People are still demanding that Instagram provide a satisfactory justification for why this incident occurred in the first place. This indicates that the uproar is not yet over. One of them posted that the very fact that this took place is troubling to think about. There is no way that this could have happened at a time when Sikhs are commemorating and bringing attention to the 36th anniversary of the Sikh Genocide, which took place in 1984. The issue of censorship must be addressed.

In recent years, the Sikh community and its efforts have been making headlines. Sikhs have been trying to raise awareness about their belief system with support from social and digital media. They have also been garnering support from fellow Sikhs and interested volunteers to participate in humanitarian causes during floods, fire, and even the COVID-19 pandemic. Suppressing noble voices is not acceptable, especially in times when good deeds are essential for survival and evolution. 


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