Facebook enforces policies on hate speech “without regard to anyone’s political position or party affiliation”, the company said amid a controversy over a US media report claiming that the social media giant ignored hate speech and objectionable content from leaders and workers of the ruling BJP.
“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.
In the article titled “Facebook Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics — Company executive opposed move to ban controversial politician”, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook looks the other way in cases of hate speech and objectionable content from BJP leaders and workers.
The Journal also reported that an executive of the social media giant had said punishing violations by BJP workers “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”. Quoting current and former employees, the article said Facebook has a “broader pattern of favouritism” towards the BJP.
The issue has become the latest flashpoint between the Congress and the BJP with the Congress citing the report as evidence of the alleged social media manipulation by the BJP. Seizing on the report, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday accused the BJP and RSS of spreading “fake news” using Facebook and WhatsApp to influence the electorate.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back, reminding the Congress about the Cambridge Analytica issue.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, said the panel would like to hear from Facebook about the report.
“The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology would certainly wish to hear from Facebook about these reports and what they propose to do about hate-speech in India,” he tweeted.
In March 2018, a year before the general elections, the Congress and the BJP traded charges after it emerged that the scandal involving UK firm Cambridge Analytica – accused of accessing data of millions of Facebook users to help elect US President Donald Trump in 2016 – could have links to elections in India.
Cambridge Analytica’s website said the company provided its services during the Bihar election in 2010 to a political party in India. The website of the Indian affiliate of Cambridge Analytica, Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI), mentioned the BJP, Congress and the Janata Dal (United) of Nitish Kumar as clients.
The Congress had rejected the charges.