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Facebook policy head Ankhi Das files complaint against ‘violent threats’

Das (49) has alleged that the threats are in relation to The Wall Street Journal article, titled “Facebook hate speech rules collide with Indian politics,” which was published on August 14.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral | New Delhi |
Updated: August 17, 2020 8:36:31 pm
Facebook BJP hate posts, BJP hate posts Facebook, WSJ report on FB BJP hate posts, India news, Indian ExpressFacebook India policy head Ankhi Das with Mark Zuckerberg. (Facebook/Ankhi Das)

Ankhi Das, public policy director of Facebook India, has submitted a written complaint to the Delhi Police Cyber Cell Sunday night, in which she has alleged that a number of people have been issuing “violent threats against my life and body through online posting/publishing of content”. An FIR is yet to be registered. A senior Delhi Police officer said, “The complaint has been received and the matter is under inquiry.”

Das (49) has alleged that the threats are in relation to The Wall Street Journal article, titled “Facebook hate speech rules collide with Indian politics,” which was published on August 14. The piece highlighted that by citing business imperatives, Das “opposed applying hate-speech rules” to at least four individuals and groups linked with the BJP despite the fact that they were “flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence”.

Read | Rahul Gandhi attacks BJP over WSJ report on Facebook, party hits back

As per the WSJ report, Das told staff members that “punishing violations” by BJP politicians “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country, Facebook’s biggest global market by number of users.” In her police complaint, Das has said the WSJ article “was further published in a mischaracterized and distorted manner in India by various publications and further widely circulated on social media.”

The four-page complaint submitted by Das mentions Facebook and Twitter handles of the people she has accused of sending her violent threats. In her complaint, she has also said that the alleged “violent threats” also contain her photos.

Opinion | The echo chamber strikes back

Meanwhile, a Facebook spokesperson said that the social media company enforces policies on hate speech “without regard to anyone’s political position or party affiliation.”

“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,” the spokesperson told news agency ANI.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology said it will look into the report in The Wall Street Journal.

“I will certainly look into the issue and the committee will seek the views of Facebook,” committee chairman Shashi Tharoor told The Indian Express.

Sources said the committee Secretariat will write to Facebook Monday demanding its explanation and is also likely to summon the social media company.

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