Facebook India Official Favoured BJP, Opposed Action Against Hate Posts: WSJ Report

The report suggested that this was despite the fact that the posts by these individuals or groups were “flagged internally for promoting violence”.

According to a report by Wall Street Journal on Friday, a top Facebook official in India opposed applying the social media platform’s hate speech rules to at least one Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician and other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups”.

The report suggested that this was despite the fact that the posts by these individuals or groups were “flagged internally for promoting violence”.

According to WSJ report, Ankhi Das, who is Facebook’s top public policy executive in India, opposed applying hate speech rules to the BJP’s T. Raja Singh out of fear of ruining the company’s relationship with the ruling party.

Singh is BJP’s only MLA in Telanagan assebly and is infamous for for making communally provocative statements.

Quoting unnamed current and former company officials, the report said, “Ms. Das, whose job also includes lobbying India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country…,”

“The current and former Facebook employees said Ms. Das’s intervention on behalf of Mr. Singh is part of a broader pattern of favoritism by Facebook toward Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu hard-liners,” the report added.

While Das had raised concerns about the political fallout that would result from designating Singh a “dangerous individual”, her opposition was not the sole factor that determined whether the BJP politician should remain on the platform, a company spokesperson told company spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook is still considering whether it will ban Singh, the official added.

Das’s team also took “no action” after BJP politicians posted content accusing Muslims of intentionally spreading the coronavirus, plotting against the nation and making a noise about “love jihad”, reported the renowned newspaper.

As per the report, an unnamed former employees quoted by WSJ claim that Das had also provided the BJP with “favourable treatment on election-related issues”

“In April of last year, days before voting began in India’s general election, Facebook announced it had taken down inauthentic pages tied to Pakistan’s military and the Congress party, the BJP’s main rival party. But it didn’t disclose it also removed pages with false news tied to the BJP, because Ms. Das intervened,” the report quoted unnamed former Facebook employees as saying.

As suggested in the media reports, several posts by Singh and BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde, which were filled with anti-Muslim rhetoric, were not deleted by Facebook until it was brought to their attention by Wall Street Journal reporters.

“Facebook deleted some of Mr. Singh’s postings after the Journal asked about them. It said Mr. Singh no longer is permitted to have an official, verified account, designated with a blue check mark badge,” the report says.

It further states, “While Twitter has suspended Mr. Hegde’s account as a result of such [anti-Muslim] posts, prompting him to call for an investigation of the company, Facebook took no action until the Journal sought comment from the company about his “Corona Jihad” posts. Facebook removed some of them on Thursday. Mr. Hegde didn’t respond to a request for comment.”

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