Facebook Ignored Hate Speech Rules On BJP- Linked Posts To Protect Its Business: WSJ Report
Prominent US-based publication – the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) – has claimed that Facebook is soft on the BJP and that the social media behemoth looks the other way whenever hate speeches are posted by leaders of the saffron brigade.
In the article titled “Facebook Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics — Company executive opposed move to ban controversial politician”, WSJ said that an executive of Facebook 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 article triggered a row with the Congress saying that the WSJ article is evidence enough of the alleged social media manipulation by the BJP.
Rahul Gandhi tweeted: 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.
Gandhi has been targeting the BJP every day on social media over its handling of the coronavirus, the state of the economy and the violence in Ladakh.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor joined the fray tweeting “The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology would certainly wish to hear from @Facebook about these reports & what they propose to do about hate-speech in India.”
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who heads the communications department, was quick to retaliate with the three-year-old Cambridge Analytica issue.
“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,” he said in a retort to Gandhi.
The BJP’s Kapil Mishra — one of the leaders accused of hate speech ahead of the Delhi riots in February – also made the same point. “Seems Congress is blackmailing Facebook to hide some serious crimes… Cambridge Analytica scam is just tip of the iceberg of Congress manipulating opinions and freedom of expression in India,” his tweet read.
In March 2018, a year before the general elections, the Congress and the BJP traded charges after it emerged that the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica — a London-based data firm 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.