Orkut Causes Outrage In India

    June 8, 2007

When you hear about vigilantes, your next thought isn’t likely to involve Orkut, Google’s semi-popular social network.  Nonetheless, the contents of that site have spurred some Indian students to attack cybercafés.

Still more violence could occur if the demands of a Hindu nationalist party are not met.  “Orkut is used by many destructive elements to spread canards about India, Hindus, our gods and cultural heritage,” explained Abhijit Phanse, president of Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena, to Reuters.

“We are gently telling Internet cafe owners that it is their responsibility to see that surfers do not use their facility to carry out such hate campaigns,” he continued, “Or else, we will have to do that job for them.”

Thankfully, this viewpoint is not standard throughout India.  Even as the police encourage cybercafé owners not to let customers access Orkut, Mahendra Palsule writes, “Why doesn’t the police take any action against the rioters, who caused destruction of private property, harassed cyber cafe owners, and thus broke the law?”

As for how this whole thing may turn out, Palsule continues, “I ultimately have faith in our judiciary who will never let a ban on Orkut prevail in India.”  Which is encouraging, however troubling the situation itself may be.

This isn’t the first time Orkut has encountered problems in India; due to an earlier dispute, Google has already given Indian police a way to contact the company about objectionable content.