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Facebook And Hate Speech: 10 Things To Know About The Big Controversy

The Wall Street Journal said Facebook has a “broader pattern of favouritism” towards the BJP.

Highlights

  • An article has set off a fresh row between the BJP and the Congress
  • The report was published last week in US publication Wall Street Journal
  • Social media giant Facebook has insisted it “prohibits hate speech”

New Delhi:
Social media giant Facebook today insisted that it “prohibits hate speech” amid a huge political controversy triggered by a report in the US publication Wall Street Journal. The report claimed that Facebook deliberately ignored disruptive content from right-wing leaders and workers. As the Congress and the BJP locked horns over the issue, the Facebook executive allegedly responsible for the decision to favour the right wing, filed a complaint with the police, saying she was receiving threats online. Yesterday, the Congress and the BJP accused each other of manipulating social media for their benefit.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. “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,” a  Facebook spokesperson said today.

  2. A 49-year-old executive of Facebook has filed a police compliant in Delhi, alleging that she received life threats online. The compliant which names five people, says the accused “have intentionally vilified me due to their political affiliations and are now engaging in online and offline abuse, subjecting me to criminal intimidation and making sexually coloured remarks.”

  3. The WSJ article has set off a fresh row between BJP and the Congress. On Sunday, several Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, shared the article, alleging that it was evidence that the BJP manipulated social media.

  4. “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,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

  5. The BJP cited the three-year-old Cambridge Analytica data scandal and said the Congress should not point fingers. Dubbing the Congress “losers”, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted: “You were caught red-handed in alliance with Cambridge Analytica & Facebook to weaponise data before the elections & now have the gall to question us?”

  6. Cambridge Analytica was a London-based data firm accused of accessing data of millions of Facebook users to help elect US President Donald Trump in 2016. Two years later, there were allegations that the UK-based firm also offered the Congress data from Facebook posts to influence voters in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress had denied the allegations.

  7. The Congress also demanded an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the charges mentioned in the WSJ report, saying they threaten the foundation of Indian democracy. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, said the panel would like to hear from Facebook about the report.

  8. BJP leader Tejashvi Surya joined issue, saying in a Twitter post: “Many have complained that Facebook is unfairly censoring many nationalist, pro-India or pro-Hindu voices. As member of Standing Committee on IT, I will take it up with concerned in appropriate forum. Please send me your complaints, if any, on the issue”.  

  9. In its article, the Wall Street Journal said Facebook ignores hate speech and objectionable content from BJP leaders and workers and has a “broader pattern of favouritism” towards the party An executive of the social media giant had also said punishing such violaters “would damage the company’s business prospects” in India, the WSJ reported.

  10. In the report published on Friday, the US newspaper quoted unnamed Facebook insiders who claimed that one of the India policy executives intervened in an internal communication to stop a permanent ban on a BJP MLA from Telangana after he allegedly posted communal, divisive content.

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