Hindustani Bhau’s Instagram Account Suspended for “Hate Speech”. What are Facebook & Twitter Waiting For?

Social Commentary

Hindustani Bhau’s Instagram Account Suspended for “Hate Speech”. What are Facebook & Twitter Waiting For?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Social media in India is riddled with trolls and strange characters who seem to channel those trolls’ latent frustrations into online clout, becoming influencers in the process. Vikas Phatak, more popularly known to his fans as “Hindustani Bhau”, is one such influencer who has acquired a large following for his rant videos filmed in his car, where he does a poor impression of Sanjay Dutt’s gangster characters while frequently threatening violence and verbally abusing the target of his rants. Bhau, or rather, Phatak, maintains profiles on all major social media platforms, like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. However, Instagram recently banned Phatak’s account, which had gathered 3.4 million followers, for violating its community guidelines.

While Instagram has not furnished further details as to exactly why Phatak’s Hindustani Bhau account was banned, a look at his content on other platforms makes it clear that his repeated threats of violence might have had something to do with it. Two days ago, Phatak said in a video, “System side mein, complaint side mein,” before urging his followers to beat up those who joked about religion without considering the rule of law. This prompted many to take notice of Phatak’s dangerous speeches, and possibly led to Instagram banning his account.

But it shouldn’t stop at that. Someone as toxic as Pathak has no place on any other social media platform, be it Facebook or Twitter.

Phatak’s Hindustani Bhau persona was highlighted on a national platform last year when he appeared as a participant in the reality show Bigg Boss. His abrasive, uncouth brand of content has spawned many imitators, who all ape his manner of cursing and threatening whoever they feel like.

After his video calling to disregard the justice system began to attract negative attention, Phatak appeared to double down on Twitter and YouTube, posting a call recording where comedian Kunal Kamra is heard trying to reason with Phatak, and Phatak reiterates the same threats.

There was also a mass reporting campaign of Phatak’s Instagram account by Shah Rukh Khan fans after Phatak supported a boycott of Khan’s latest release, Pathan, on his Instagram stories. The wave of reports, both from those concerned by his threatening videos as well as millions of upset Shah Rukh fans must have brought Phatak to the platform’s notice, leading to his ban.

Naturally, Phatak’s many followers are reacting by promising to boycott Instagram. But given how offensive Phatak is to everyone except those who follow him, it’s unlikely that they will be missed.