Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

“If you like Hindutva…you might also like…”: How Facebook’s Recommendation Model Reinforces Hindu Nationalism’s Casteism

Sundaram, Dheepa
American Religion

The Facebook groups discussed in this essay are three of over twenty different groups and pages I follow or have joined as part of my research into Hindu nationalism on social media platforms. While many of the groups I monitor are private, the screenshots of posts included here are from publicly viewable Facebook groups. While this essay is not an autoethnography, I have used the group and page recommendations to my Facebook account as the basis of my argument. I have done so for two reasons: 1) My identity holds markers of caste privilege and class positionality similar to users in many of these groups. Additionally, the recommendations perhaps speak to the subtle markers of caste in my profile that may not be readily legible; 2) While it is possible to approach this project from a quantitative perspective and collect data on Facebook recommendations to various users or to engage in a more intensive, qualitative study that interviews Facebook users of Hindu and/or Hindu nationalist groups, the scope and scale of this essay required a more granular approach