Facebook issues statement after controversy over BJP leaders' hate speeches
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Aug 17, 2020, 01:48 pm
Facebook has released a statement after a controversy erupted over a US media report stating that the social media company was ignoring hate speeches including offensive content from leaders and workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India.
A Facebook spokesperson issued a statement saying, "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 conducting regular audits of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy,".
The Wall Street Journal claimed in its report titled "Facebook Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics -- Company executive opposed move to ban controversial politician" that the company was not paying heed to the content in the cases of hate speeches being made by BJP leaders and workers.
The report further claimed that a Facebook executive said that pushing for violations against BJP workers "would damage the company's business prospects in the country". The article stated that Facebook had a "broader pattern of favouritism" towards the BJP, while quoting present and former employees.
The issue has taken a new light recently between the Congress and the BJP with the Congress citing the report as a form of evidence of the supposed manipulation by the BJP on social media. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday laid accusations against the BJP and RSS for indulging in the spread of "fake news" by using Facebook and WhatsApp in order to influence the electorate.
In response, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad retaliated by reminding the Congress about the Cambridge Analytica issue, while Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, the chief of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, stated the panel expected a reply from Facebook in regard to the report. He had tweeted, "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,".
The Congress and the BJP levied charges against each other in March 2018, a year before the general elections, stating that the scandal involving UK firm Cambridge Analytica - accused of helping US President Donald Trump in 2016 by accessing data of millions of Facebook users - possibly had links to the Indian elections.
In a statement, Cambridge Analytica's website said the company extended its services in 2010 to a political party in India during the Bihar elections. The website of the Indian affiliate of Cambridge Analytica, Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI), cited the BJP, Congress and the Janata Dal (United) of Nitish Kumar as its clients, following which the Congress went on to deny the charges.