A thing which caught the user’s eye is that Facebook and Instagram appears to be blocking the hashtag #Sikh for a number of users. This was highlighted by a huge number of users on Twitter.
Curiously, the blocking of the hashtag appears to be happening selectively, as some members accounts could not search for the term, but results were showing up for others.
Neither Facebook nor Instagram clarified why #sikh was blocked out but they have offered their apologies and said ” We have unblocked the hashtag #sikh on Instagram and are working to unblock #sikh on Facebook. We’re investigating why this happened. We will follow up here later today with more information.”
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) June 3, 2020
Adam Moseri, Head of Instagram also tweeted about the mistake and said, “Not sure what’s going on here, but we’re looking into it and will circle back. Thanks for calling it out.”
He further added that “Not sure how the #sikh hashtag ended up blocked. It’s now unblocked on Instagram, we are working to unblock it on Facebook, and we’re investigating why this happened.”
Not sure what's going on here, but we're looking into it and will circle back. Thanks for calling it out.
— Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri) June 3, 2020
The hashtag was first unblocked by Instagram and Facebook did it a few hours later.
There are hundreds of tweets pointing out the blocking of #Sikh on Facebook at the time of writing. Poet and author Rupi Kaur directly called out “the hypocrisy of Facebook’s approach to free speech,” in a tweet.
Kaur wrote, “Zuckerberg says FB’s principles prohibit him from blocking Trump as he incites violence and hate. Meanwhile, as Sikhs raise their voice to mark the injustices of 1984: Sikh hashtags are blocked.”
Restaurateur Harjinder Singh Kukreja highlighted this with a tweet pointing out that the block was discriminatory. The Sikh Press Association on Twitter raised the issue of the block as well, as well as the #Neverforget1984 hashtag, and Simran Jeet Singh, a well-known educator who often offers comment and analysis on religion, racism, and justice on social media also called out the blocking of the hashtag.
Dear @instagram, Sikhs worldwide are shocked at hashtag #Sikh being blocked. Receiving the following message, “we restrict certain content and actions to protect our community” when we use hashtag #Sikh. For this awful & discriminatory experience, @InstagramComms must answer. pic.twitter.com/ZiL1qqP5Do
— Harjinder Singh Kukreja (@SinghLions) June 3, 2020