Social Media

Facebook bans BJP MLA Raja Singh amid hate speech row

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on September 03, 2020 Published on September 03, 2020

Removes unofficial pages, groups and accounts representing the politician from Facebook and Instagram

Amid ongoing criticism of its handling of hate speech, Facebook has banned BJP MLA T Raja Singh from the social media platform and its photo-sharing service Instagram for alleged violation of its hate speech policies.

Singh will not be able to create profiles across Facebook’s services. Facebook will also be removing unofficial pages, groups, and accounts set up to represent the politician.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, at least five pages set up in Singh’s name have been removed and show a message that says, “This Content Isn’t Available Right Now.” His Instagram profile is also unavailable.

"We have banned Raja Singh from Facebook for violating our policy prohibiting those that promote or engage in violence and hate from having a presence on our platform. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to Facebook's decision to remove his account,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement as quoted by the report.

Mounting pressure

Facebook has been facing mounting pressure from authorities in India and criticism for its handling of hate speech after a WSJ report claimed that the platform had failed to act against Singh for inciting hate speech. Singh, in the past, had posted content categorised as ‘hate speech’ against Rohingya Muslim immigrants among other anti-Muslim sentiments, as per reports.

The WSJ report had alleged that Facebook’s head of public policy in India, Ankhi Das, had instructed the staff to refrain from banning Singh as it would jeopardise Facebook’s business endeavours in India.

The allegations had been denied by the platform stating that it had clear policies against hate speech.

Facebook India’s top executive Ajit Mohan and associate general counsel of the social media platform Saanjh Purohit were grilled by a Parliamentary Panel on Wednesday. The panel posed various questions about the platform’s policies over “safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of online media platforms with an emphasis on women security, as per previous reports.

The panel has directed the social media major to submit a written statement in response to its questions within ten days.

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Published on September 03, 2020
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