Mumbai Police Help Indian Prime Minister Modi Scrub BuzzFeed Of Images That Offended His Delicate Sensibilities

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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Comments on “Mumbai Police Help Indian Prime Minister Modi Scrub BuzzFeed Of Images That Offended His Delicate Sensibilities”

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Anonymous Coward says:

the Indian government shutdown the internet in kashmir and reduced the mobile acess speed to 2g , to reduce internet acess to muslims and other indian citizens who might want to gather and protest against the new law about indian citizenship that discriminates against muslims .
this loss of acess resulted in 500,000 people in kashmir region losing their jobs.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Thanks for clearing that one up you goon

So, what I’m hearing is that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a thin-skinned tyrant who really hates free speech and the idea that people might not be gushing with praise for him due to the whole ‘thin-skinned tyrant’ thing.

Yup, that’s definitely more damaging to his reputation than a photoshop of him lovingly embracing one of his lackeys, something he demanded be taken down out of what I can only guess is intense jealousy that it can never happen and theirs is a love that can never be.

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Anonymous Coward says:

FACT - Modi is loved by Indians

… whatever clowns and libturds around the world think, nobody really cares in India!

As to authoritarian – that label only reflects the ignorance and partisan nonsense of people who dont understand how Govt in India works or are too butt hurt to accept the reality that hundreds of millions of people voted for him and his party while his approval ratings are still very high.

Finally, in Indian law – such sleazy cartoons or memes of public figures is totally illegal and defamatory. Free Speech as recognises in India has many stipulations and limitations. Hoaxes, untruths and patently defamatory images cannot be published either as comedy or political satire or political propaganda. If such stuff was allowed, it would be a free for all with vulgarity of every stripe leading to enormous amount of death and violence.

If libturds are such champions of free speech publish Mohammad cartoons and show your bravery. Also, it doesnt really impact Modi or his feelings – he’s been called worse and he didnt care. But people who care about him would react far more severely.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


Imagine if Donald Trump got so pissy about people mocking him with bad photoshops on Twitter that he ordered Twitter to take down all those images. We’d never hear the end of it. But because a foreign leader does it, we’re supposed to ignore the fact that they’ve proven themselves to be so thin-skinned that they require the force of government to silence those who pierced said skin with bad photoshops?

“Free speech” isn’t free if it comes with the limitation that the government may revoke your speech at any time for virtually any reason it wants. That principle applies just as much to India as it does to the United States. Believing that a leader should have the right to silence mockery of themselves makes you an apologist for fascism — and defending your apologia for tyranny makes you a fascist.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


Releasing the files on the computer alleged to be Hunter Biden’s in a different country wouldn’t have mattered if they were of the same sketchy origin.

And yes, I support the right of Twitter’s higher-ups to decide what speech Twitter will and won’t host. Would you prefer to have the government compel them into hosting speech?

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