from the too-many-petulant-children-running-too-many-countries dept
The government of India has been a pretty active censor in recent years, blatantly ignoring the constitutional right to free speech the country’s citizens are supposed to be able to enjoy. Free speech is fine, as long as it’s free speech the government likes. In many cases, the likability of the speech depends on its portrayal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi doesn’t like critical news coverage. Or, as in the case we’re about to discuss, critical memes. And he’s been using a handy excuse — terrorism — to shut down or severely cripple internet access for Indian residents.
The Indian government has gone extraterritorial with its censorship demands, as Shooting the Messenger reports. A 2016 BuzzFeed listicle featuring Modi-centric memes has been turned into a long string of “image removed” notices as the result of government takedown demands. The same goes for other BuzzFeed posts containing images that apparently offended the Prime Minister.
Since Feb. 2018, I’ve been documenting heavy-handed legal attempts by Mumbai police to scrub photoshopped images of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi from the Internet.
Notable examples include forcing BuzzFeed to remove a doctored image of Modi embracing his right-hand man Rajnath Singh on an idyllic beach, plus two unsuccessful attempts to remove the same image from this blog.
Here’s the image Modi and the Mumbai police have unsuccessfully tried to nuke from Dean Jones’ blog:
The censorship efforts were more successful elsewhere. BuzzFeed India contributor Imaan Sheikh’s listicle went from a series of possibly unflattering images to this after intervention by the Mumbai police:
All 17 of the images in the post have been removed by takedown requests. This mass content nuking makes the note appended to the article back in 2018 (when the title changed from “18 Modi Photoshops That Should’ve Never Fucking Happened” to “17 Modi Photoshops…”) hilariously inaccurate.
February 14, 2018, 5:32 AM
One image has been removed from this post.
Ahhh. Those were the days.
As Jones points out, this targeted censorship does nothing to burnish the reputation of Modi. It only serves to solidify his reputation as a thin-skinned authoritarian with an absolutely abysmal record on human rights. And the more Modi tries to censor, the more likely it is the images he’s targeting will attract more attention. The Streisand Effect is also extraterritorial.
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