The hashtag was hidden within India, according to people who shared screenshots on Twitter, and in the United States, Canada, and England based on searches run by BuzzFeed News.
In February, India enacted new regulations on social media and online video, which give the government the ability to require platforms like Facebook and Twitter to take down content that the government finds objectionable.
A spokesperson for India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has not yet replied to a request for comment.
This appears to be the first time that Facebook has blocked or hidden calls for the resignation of a democratically elected world leader and goes against CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s stated preference of leaving content up whenever possible. The ban seems antithetical to the principles of a platform that was once celebrated for its role in perpetuating the Arab Spring, which led to a wave of democratic revolts that toppled Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and the autocratic rulers of several other countries in the region.
Despite signs that normal life would return earlier this year, India is currently in the grips of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, one that has come with increasing criticism of its leader.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government has taken the difficult task of organizing a pandemic response in a poor country like India and made it impossible,” wrote the India-based magazine Caravan on Tuesday.