Recently a video went viral that showed Prabhakar Maurya, an Uttar Pradesh resident, worshipping state chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The video shows the CM holding divine objects such as a bow and arrows as well as a revolving sun behind his head.
The video soon became viral with many on Twitter and Instagram making fun of the act. One such Instagram account named @cringearchivist (Archive of Cringetopia) posted it as one of its stories. However, the story was immediately pulled down by Instagram citing a violation of ‘nudity and sexual content’ guidelines. Odd isn’t it? Because Yogi’s statue and Maurya were fully clothed.
At first, @cringearchivist thought it was a mistake from the algorithm’s side. Someone would have reported the story and ticked on nudity by mistake.
However, a recent investigative article by The Wire opens chilling facts on how social media sites, especially Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook (owned by Meta) are under the direct control of the Indian Government through a few privileges or perhaps inclusive membership.
The Wire found out that the story by @cringearchivist on the UP CM was taken down not due to an algorithm error but through an order from the Bharatiya Janata Party IT president Amit Malviya.
Malviya had reported the story to Instagram which led to immediate removal. This is not just one isolated incident, it was found. According to @cringearchivist, seven of its posts were removed by Instagram in the last few months. The Wire found out all these posts by reported by Malviya, forcing @cringearchivist to go from a public to a private account.
So how did that happen? Wasn’t a cross-check done by Instagram moderators before taking the step? At least that is how it is supposed to be done. However, the shocking truth is that Amit Malviya in fact has special privileges which allows him to bypass rules.
Meta’s ‘XCheck’ or ‘Cross Check’ program.
Meta is the owner of Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook. In September 2021, Meta introduced a program named Meta’s ‘XCheck’ or ‘Cross Check’ program. This was a hush-hush affair which was later exposed by the Wall Street Journal.
This inclusive program has a list of eminent people, mostly celebrities, sportspersons and politicians, who have a large number of followers. If you are a member of XCheck, you basically have the power to flout Instagram’s rules. In short, you can save yourself from bad press by bringing it down, and no questions will be asked.
“Some users are “whitelisted”—rendered immune from enforcement actions—while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come,” Wall Street Journal reported then.
The XCheck program was not positively received by those working in Meta. Many thought it could violate the company’s standards without any consequences. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2020, there were around 5.8 million users part of XCheck program.
Malviya’s XCheck membership
The BJP IT cell president is also a member of Instagram’s ‘XCheck program’, even though he has a mere 5,000 followers on Instagram and 15,000 followers on Facebook.
So how did he get the XCheck membership?
Sources in Meta told The Wire that Malviya’s status as the head of the IT cell of India’s ruling party elevated him to the spot. “It is not because he has an impactful voice,” said the source.
With this privilege, Malviya can post anything and pull down any post he wishes to. Being an XCheck member no one can flag, review or question his posts. Malviya is responsible for pulling down 705 posts on Instagram using his privilege as an XCheck member.
Malviya – the messiah of fake news
Amit Malviya is not just a regular BJP leader. He is the head of the party’s IT cell. Thus, whatever the party preaches or wants its followers or admirers to see, watch or read, it goes under Malviya’s nose.
Secondly, he has been found spreading fake news and hate against minority communities, especially Muslims, through social media platforms in the past. On January 15, 2020, he shared a video implying that the women of Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh are protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) for money.
He has also shared a video where it suggests that Muslims protestings CAA are happily eating biryani. Malviya wrote, “Proof of Biryani being distributed at Shaheen Bagh!”
Amit Malviya’s fake news has of course been busted as well, especially by Altnews.
Very recently, Malviya took a dig at The Wire for their reporting.
The BJP-led Centre has been censured for often undermining India’s democratic processes from several quarters. The government has also gone after Twitter in the past (the platform once marked Amit Malviya’s tweet for spreading false information as well), so the party’s IT cell head getting such discretionary powers on Instagram is barely surprising.