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Facebook and Instagram unblock #Sikh after restricting it for months

After intense public pressure, the platforms have reversed the block and apologized on Twitter.
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Instagram's New York office, in 2018.Jeenah Moon / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Facebook and Instagram have unblocked the hashtag #Sikh after nearly three months of restricting it, according to a series of tweets from Instagram's public relations team.

The block was made “mistakenly,” the tweets state. Instagram says the block was put into place on March 7, due to a report that was “inaccurately reviewed by our teams.” It was lifted late last week after public pressure.

“Our processes fell down here, and we’re sorry,” the thread reads.

Facebook directed NBC Asian America's request for comment to Instagram's Twitter thread.

Sikhs, a religious group that originated in North India, make up around 30 million people worldwide, including an estimated 500,000 followers in the U.S.

The reversal of the block comes during the 36th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, an Indian military raid of a Sikh temple from June 1 to 8, 1984, that led to nearly 500 civilian deaths. Anti-Sikh violence in India persisted throughout that year and after, including the 1984 Sikh Massacre, in which thousands of civilians were murdered. The hashtag #NeverForget1984 is being used on social media this month in memory of the violence.

“This is an incredibly important, painful time for the Sikh community,” Instagram acknowledged in the tweets. “It's never our intention to silence the voices of this community, we are taking the necessary steps so this doesn’t happen again.”

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