New Delhi: The Congress party, on Tuesday, asked Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO to probe into allegations that the company’s India team meted out favorable treatment towards BJP, the ruling party.
The latest spat between the two political parties followed after an investigative report on Wall Street Journal on Friday alleged that Facebook’s India policy head Ankhi Das ‘provided the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with favorable treatment on election-related issues.’
Thereby, they violated the company’s own guidelines on hate speeches all by refusing to take down objectionable comments made by various BJP leaders.
Congress’ general secretary, KC Venugopal wrote to Zuckerberg asking him to set up a high-level inquiry into Facebook’s India leadership team including their operations.
In the letter, Venugopal added that this is a damning and serious allegation of Facebook India’s interference in India’s electoral democracy.
According to him, Congress is India’s oldest political party that fought for the nation’s freedom and established electoral democracy through adult franchise.
Hence he said that it is deeply disturbing to note that Facebook might be a willing participant in thwarting the very rights and values that our founding leaders sacrificed their lives for.
Additionally, Congress has now asked Facebook to make public all the instances of the various hate speech posts that were allowed on the platform since 2014.
Moreover, Congress has also asked for a new team to lead India’s operations to be appointed until the high-level inquiry is completed.
A war of words then issued between the two parties with former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi accusing BJP- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of controlling Facebook India to spread hatred, influence the electorate and fake news.
He 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.”
This led to Ravi Shankar Prasad- Information Technology Minister calling Gandhi a “loser.” He even reminded the opposition of their involvement in the Cambridge Analytica issue- the now-defunct political consultancy firm. Stating that the party had the “gall” to question BJP after Congress was caught red-handed in alliance with Cambridge Analytica & Facebook to weaponise data before the elections.
As of now Congress and the CPI (M) have demanded a probe by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) into the allegations. However, Prahlad Joshi- Union parliamentary affairs minister dismissed the call for a JPC probe.