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Congress again writes to Zuckerberg on ‘Facebook-BJP nexus’, hate speech probe

The Congress in its letter to Zuckergerg claimed "evidence of biases and a quid pro quo relationship" of Facebook India with the BJP.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 29, 2020 6:56:06 pm
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook ads, Companies withdraw Facebook ads, Facebook ads boycott, Indian Express The Congress' letter to Zuckerberg came over an article which the party claimed "revealed evidence of biases and a quid pro quo relationship" of Facebook India with the BJP.

Referring to a TIME magazine report on the alleged ties between Facebook and the BJP, the Congress Saturday wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the second time in a month, asking if steps have been taken by the social media giant regarding charges of favouring the ruling party on its platform.

The Congress’ letter to Zuckerberg followed an article in Time magazine on “how (Facebook) enforces its hate speech policies when the accused are members” of the ruling party, and the alleged misuse of Facebook and WhatsApp to “spread hate speech and misinformation that have been blamed for helping to incite deadly attacks on minority groups”.

Citing the article in its letter to Zuckerberg, the Congress said it “revealed” more information and “evidence of biases and a quid pro quo relationship” of Facebook India with the BJP.

At a press conference, the opposition party also demanded an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the alleged “links of Facebook employees and the ruling establishment”.

Also Read | BJP tops political ad spend on Facebook India

“We draw your attention to the article in Time magazine dated August 27 that reveals more information and evidence of biases and a quid-pro-quo relationship of Facebook India with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party,” Congress general secretary K.C Venugopal said in the letter dated August 29 while seeking details of steps being taken by the company.

“We will also be pursuing legislative and judicial actions in India to ensure that a foreign company cannot continue to cause social disharmony in our nation for their pursuit of private profits,” he said.

At the party’s press conference, spokesperson Pawan Khera and AICC data analytics department chief Praveen Chakravarty called for an “exhaustive and unbiased investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee between the unending links of Facebook employees and the ruling establishment”.

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“The investigation must include how Facebook manipulated voter opinion, allowed hate speech and was oblivious to fake news, even when they were in clear violation of their own regulations,” they said in a statement. “WhatsApp cannot be granted approvals for its payment operations until the inquiry is complete and the recommended actions are taken by the company,” the party said.

Taking to Twitter, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the TIME article “exposes WhatsApp-BJP nexus.” “Used by 40 Cr Indians, WhatsApp also wants to be used for making payments for which Modi Government’s approval is needed. Thus, BJP has a hold over WhatsApp,” he alleged, without elaborating.

Popular messaging app WhatsApp is also owned by Facebook.

The Congress had earlier also written to the Facebook CEO asking him to set up a time-bound “high-level inquiry” into its leadership in India and their operations and put in place a new team until completion of the internal probe.

The letter came days after The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook’s top public policy executive in India, citing business reasons, didn’t apply “hate-speech rules” to at least four individuals and groups linked with BJP who were “flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence”.

In his second letter to Zuckerberg, Venugopal referred to his earlier letter dated August 17, and demanded that the report of the investigation ordered by Facebook into the conduct of its Indian unit be made public.

Denying the charges, Facebook India last week insisted that it is a “non-partisan platform” and that it will continue to remove content posted by public figures in India that are in violation of its standards.

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