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Parliamentary Committee to summon Facebook for inaction on hate speech linked with BJP

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 17, 2020

Facebook India’s Public Policy Director Ankhi Das directed the staff to be lenient with the BJP politicians; said going against them would jeopardize FB’s business in India

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor will examine the report by the Wall Street Journal on Facebook’s lack of action on four individuals who were linked with the BJP and were “flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence,” Indian Express reported.

Speaking on the issue, Tharoor said to IE: “I will certainly look into the issue and the committee will seek the views of Facebook.”

Sources in IE also revealed that the Secretariat will summon Facebook to ask the social media giant about the lack of action against the four individuals.

The WSJ reported that Facebook India’s Public Policy director Ankhi Das directed the staff to be lenient with the BJP politicians. Das believed that going against them would jeopardize Facebook’s business endeavours in India, the biggest global market of Facebook in terms of the number of users, as per previous reports.

After the report went viral, Congress asked for a probe on the matter. Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken briefed media and said: “We want to ask the BJP…tell us Rashmi Das, who was a president of ABVP’s JNU unit, what is her relation with Ankhi Das, Facebook India’s Public Policy Director, how is she related to her?”

“The report says the action was not taken because of the business interests of Facebook; we would also like to know what are those business interests which are stopping Facebook and Whatsapp. Is there any deal that you vitiate the atmosphere in India…polarise society on the basis of caste and religion which is the agenda of the BJP and the RSS…and in return for that we will help you make gains in India’s market?” Maken added.

“WhatsApp has applied for a license for WhatsApp Pay. What is the deal for that license…what are the conditions?” Maken asked.

Defending the social media giant, a Facebook spokesperson told The Indian Express: “We prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position or party affiliation. While we know there is more to do, we’re making progress on enforcement and conduct regular audits of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy.”

Published on August 17, 2020

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