Facebook Kept Mum On BJP-Linked Hate Speech Posts, Sidelined Rules For Business Reasons: WSJ Report

Citing business reasons, Facebook's top official in India 'opposed applying hate-speech rules' to individuals and groups linked with the BJP.

India   |   16 Aug 2020 7:51 AM GMT / Updated : 2020-08-17T12:11:58+05:30
Writer : Devyani Madaik | Editor : Shubhendu Deshmukh | Creatives : Abhishek M
Facebook Kept Mum On BJP-Linked Hate Speech Posts, Sidelined Rules For Business Reasons: WSJ Report

Credits: Loksatta

Citing business reasons, Facebook's top official in India 'opposed applying hate-speech rules' to individuals and groups linked with the BJP, Wall Street Journal reported.

This was directed even though those accounts were flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence, an August 14 report headlined 'Facebook's Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics' read.

According to the report, Public Policy Director for India's branch, Ankhi Das had told the staff members that 'punishing violations by BJP politicians would damage the company's business prospects in the country, Facebook's biggest global market by a number of users.' Das's job role includes lobbying India's government on Facebook's behalf.

The BJP politician cited in the article was T. Raja Singh, MLA from Telangana, who has been posting provocative posts on social media, especially against the Muslim community, accusing them of spreading coronavirus, working against the prosperity of the nation and so forth.

The report quoted an anonymous former employee saying that internal Facebook staff concluded that the MLA should be banned from the platform under a policy called 'Dangerous Individuals and Organizations', but Das reportedly raised concerns about the backlash and fallout the company might face due to this.

However, the social media giant is still considering whether to ban Singh or not. The company also said it deleted some of Singh's posts after a query from WSJ and said that he was no longer allowed to have an official account.

On the other hand, Singh told The Indian Express that none of the posts was published by him as his account was deleted long back in 2018. "Facebook did not communicate with us when they took down our official page in 2018. Now, many different supporters across the country have been making pages in my name. We cannot stop anyone. We do not have control," Singh as quoted.

In addition to this, the former employees quoted by WSJ said that Das had also provided the BJP with exceptional flexibility in terms of policies and removal of some accounts during the election period.

Reacting to the WSJ report a Facebook spokesperson told The Indian Express, that while they know there is more to do with regards to hate-speech and content inciting violence, they are making progress on enforcement and conduct regular audits of our process to ensure fairness.

Facebook had taken down inauthentic pages in association with Pakistan's military and the Congress party without anyone's knowledge.

Earlier, in a meeting with his employees, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had cited Kapil Mishra's speech that claimed to raise actions against anyone protesting against anti-Citizenship Amendment Act as a textbook example of hate speech, claiming the company's acknowledgement and intolerance towards hate speech.

Under the company's policy of Dangerous Individuals and Organizations, contents regarding organized hate, mass murder, hate crimes, or terrorist attacks are banned.

Also Read: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina Retire From International Cricket: Fans Emotional With Sudden Announcement

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