Internet censorship

YouTube lifts block on Gujarat riots documentary maker Rakesh Sharma's channel

The filmmaker said he had not received any notification from the website before or after the ban.

Documentary filmmaker Rakesh Sharma on Saturday said the block on his YouTube channel has been lifted without any notification from the video-sharing website. On Twitter, Sharma said that while he had not directly written to YouTube, his public tweeting and the online campaign against the ban likely prompted a reversal of the block.

“As mysteriously as my channel vanished, it is back! Thanks to you who made this your own campaign, #YouTubeBan is over,” Sharma tweeted on Saturday.

On Friday, Sharma’s YouTube channel RakeshFilms had been blocked with a message from the website that said, “This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content or other Terms of Service violations.”

Sharma is known for his documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots, which created a stir when it was released in 2004. His channel featured more than two dozen video clips from Final Solution, the critically-acclaimed documentary that sharply criticises Narendra Modi, who was Gujarat chief minister during the violence, and the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party government for the communal riots in 2002.

The filmmaker had said he had not received any email, message or warning from the website about any kind of violation. “This move is part of the same campaign to whitewash Mr Modi’s image and erase his stained past,” he had said while adding that a social media trend where “specific accounts are targeted and suspended” was evident.

The Central Board Of Film Certification gave Final Solution an approval only after intense public outcry.

To ensure that the film reached the masses, Sharma has been encouraging people to circulate pirated copies and upload its clips on YouTube. “It is sad that YouTube and Google are playing super-censor on behalf of the government, but my film will never be buried,” Sharma had said.

In response, YouTube had said: “YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit videos that contain nudity or sexual content, violent or graphic content, harmful or dangerous content, hateful content, threats, spam, misleading metadata, or scams. And we remove flagged videos that violate these guidelines. We have a flag underneath every video on YouTube, and we review content that anyone flags to us 24 hours a day. We also act quickly to remove material that violates our policies. Repeat offences result in the termination of the YouTube channel. “

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