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Facebook’s Hate-Speech Policy

The Fallout

The chaos in connection to Facebook and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has recently been in limelight. The US media is questioning the ties between the camps. Huge distress scaled when Facebook chose to ignore the rules and regulations of hate speech thus showing a bias towards the ruling party.

Ankhi Das, in-charge of the team managing the contents uploaded on the platform had turned a blind-eye to a hate speech posted by a BJP member. Das did not take any action because she feared a negative impact on the company’s business prospects with India.

Further agitation raised among the Congress leaders wanting a fair probe into Facebook’s operation. They claimed Facebook’s content policies favour the party in action.

Endorsing communal hate

BJP legislator, T Raja Singh on August, 2018 targeted the community of Rohingya Muslims by using the social media platform. He branded them as terrorists who should be killed. Singh also threatened to destroy the mosques. When questioned, he chose to stand by his insensitive comments.               

“I stand by my earlier remarks that Rohingya Muslims should be sent away if they are indulging in anti-national activities.”

To his defense

When the media interrogated him on posting provocative content, Mr Singh denied of having a Facebook account. He also shared a copy of complaint stating his Facebook account was hacked during election, 2018.

“Sometimes I go to public meetings and talk in style. My followers might have uploaded those videos”-Mr Singh.

“I do not have any FB account now. Many of my followers or party activists may be running pages on my name or posting videos and I cannot be held responsible for that. I do not have any control on them,”

The WSJ report alleged T Singh(BJP MLA in Telengana Assembly for introducing hate speech- ‘calling for violence against minorities.’

In addition,The Wall Street Journal accounted the ignorance of an Indian officer at Facebook to prevent any damage to the business prospects of the company. Ankhi Das intervened on behalf of Singh and goes on to show Facebook’s favoritism towards the Prime Minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu hard-liners-as per Wall Street Journal.

IT Minister slams Rahul Gandhi’s Allegations!

Rahul Gandhi, member of Indian National Congress also attacked Facebook for its intentional bias towards the members of ruling party.

Further , Gandhi posted an article of the Wall Street Journal to support “BJP & RSS control Facebook & Whatsapp in India. They spread fake news and hatred through it and use it to influence the electorate. Finally, the American media has come out with the truth about Facebook.”

Union Minister tweets

Conversely, Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad diplomatically responded –

“Losers who cannot influence people even in their own party keep cribbing that the entire world is controlled by BJP & RSS. You were caught red-handed in alliance with Cambridge Analytica & Facebook to weaponize data before the elections & now have the gall to question us?” Prasad went on to claim, “The fact is that today, access to information and freedom of expression has been democratized. It is no longer controlled by retainers of your family and that is why it hurts. Btw, haven’t yet heard your condemnation of the Bangalore riots. Where did your courage disappear?”

Gimmick to catalyze election prospects?

In light of the issue, former employees claimed that Das favored BJP keeping election strategy in mind.

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

The platform deleted several inappropriate posts of Singh and MP Anant kumar Hegde of BJP after Wall Street Journal reporters addressed misuse.

“Facebook deleted some of Mr. Singh’s posts 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 notes.

“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.Mr. Hegde didn’t respond to a request for comment.”

Consequence

A Facebook spokesperson reassured that the company’s policy is independent of any political stance. He stated “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,”. As a result, Facebook banned T.Raja by calling him a “dangerous individual,” on Thursday.Any access to facebook or twitter shall be denied to the BJP MLA from now on. Subsequently, he said that he will request Facebook to give him a new id and promised to follow the rules further.

Similar conflicts

Cambridge Analytica , a data analytics firm, planned a data leak of millions of users without their consent, in early 2018. A personality quiz app aided in grabbing the data. Political advertisement being the primary idea behind all.The exact record of accessed accounts are yet unknown. Subsequently, a request to delete Facebook with #DeleteFacebook followed.

References:

https://thewire.in/politics/bjp-facebook-india-modi

Also Read:

https://thewire.in/media/facebook-hate-speech-guidelines-india-study

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/data-breach-how-will-the-biggest-scandal-that-facebook-is-mired-in-affect-its-credibility-in-india/articleshow/63446048.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

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