Indian Elections: Diaspora occupy Meta HQ over failures to address hate

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Press release, April 17 2024


With India’s general elections kicking off this week, activists and researchers in the Indian diaspora have sounded the alarm bells about the failure of social media giant Meta to put in place safeguards for India’s elections. In response to scathing evidence over the years that Meta has failed to respect human rights in India, 38 diaspora groups and allies had sent an urgent letter with a 10-point-plan to Meta – but received no response. As a last resort, Foundation The London Story alongside Indian diaspora activists therefore on Wednesday, April 17, blocked Meta’s headquarters in London, sealing the office off as a “crime scene against democracy”.

This year’s elections in India are a formidable challenge to the very foundations of democracy, and social media corporations must treat them as such. Social media corporations must now demonstrate that they will radically depart from business as usual – in which profits are more important than people.

– Ritumbra Manuvie, Executive Director of the diaspora-led Foundation The London Story

Meta failed to respond to civil society recommendations

A week before the start of India’s elections, 38 Indian diaspora groups and allies sent an urgent letter to Meta with measures the corporation should take to safeguard the elections and human rights. In the letter, they called on Meta to urgently enforce an election silence period and ban any political advertisements in the 48 hours before the elections, in accordance with Indian electoral law. The letter is accompanied by a list of ten demands, which provide a tangible roadmap for social media corporations to stop facilitating human rights abuses via their platforms:

  1. Adopt an election silence period;
  2. Ensure transparency by vetting who they are receiving money from;
  3. Ban shadow advertisers;
  4. Allow fact-checking of ads;
  5. Ensure fact-checked information is correctly labelled in all languages;
  6. Ensure that dehumanizing, caricaturing, demonizing of minorities is checked properly;
  7. Proactively act to restrict re-spawning pages;
  8. Remove the political exemption;
  9. Allocate resources proportionately to the user market;
  10. Shut down the recommender system and make algorithms open for audits.

However, two days before the start of India’s elections, Meta had failed to even respond to the letter and 10-point-plan.

Images: Maja Smiejkowska

Last resort: Indian diaspora turns Meta HQ in London into a crime scene

On Wednesday, April 17, activists from the Indian diaspora therefore as a last resort took over the entrance to the Meta headquarters in London, demanding urgent action. Clad in forensic suits and wielding blue and white incident tape, the protesters transformed the office building into a vivid reminder of the crimes against democracy being perpetuated in virtual spaces.

Meta has shown it can implement guard rails to save democracy during US elections. We are asking for similar rules to be extended to India to prevent serious harms during elections. With our action, we want to make it clear that Meta cannot get away with treating Global South democracies such as India with contempt. Meta should stop prioritising profit over ethical considerations.

– Praveen Kolluguri, one of the diaspora members protesting at the headquarters


We, members of the Indian diaspora, are sounding the alarm bells on how Meta is complicit in the spread of hate, violence, and extremism. Social media corporations like Meta have shown blatant disregard for our domestic law, and therefore for diaspora communities in the UK, as well as for human life in India. That is why we are calling on these companies to urgently do what is necessary under India’s domestic laws: Enforce an election silence period.

– Rajiv Sinha, from the diaspora organisation Hindus for Human Rights UK

India’s elections

From 19 April to 1 June 2024, over 945 million people go to the polls in India for general elections. With a population of 1.4 billion, thousands of dialects, over 120 official languages, six major religions, and more than 1 million polling stations, the election has been named the biggest democratic exercise in history.


Scathing whistle-blower testimonies and extensive reports have brought attention to social media corporations such as Meta, Alphabet, X and others for failing to prevent the spread of illegal content and incitement to violence on their platforms. The prevalence of surrogate and shadow advertising used on social media platforms in India was previously reported during the previous Lok Sabha election in 2019, as well as during state elections. Yet, social media corporations have shown blatant failure to act on such content, even when they are alerted to it, and have failed to invest in adequate resources for the Indian user market. For example, Meta provides content moderation for only 20 languages — while there are over 121 languages in the country. Ahead of the Indian elections, urgent investment and changes in policy and platform are needed.




For any press questions: Dr Ritumbra Manuvie,, +46 769 739 264

Photo: Luca Marino