Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg all while alleging that the employees of the social media site are on record abusing senior Cabinet Ministers and the prime minister of India.
This development came amid the ongoing rows over Facebook India’s bias towards Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The letter added that all the employees are working in important positions in Facebook India.
The letter also mentions that Prasad has heard that in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls, there was a concerted effort by Facebook India to delete pages or substantially reduce their reach. Additionally, Facebook did not even offer no right of appeal to those affected if they were ideologically right of centre. Prasad states that many mails written and sent regarding this issue remain unanswered, which is seemingly a direct outcome of “dominant political beliefs of individuals” in the Facebook India Team.
The letter to Zuckerberg comes at a time when US media has reported a bias within Facebook India while dealing with posts from members of the BJP or the right-wing. A Wall Street Journal report alleged that Facebook’s public policy director for India South and Central Asia, Ankhi Das blocked action against leaders associated with either Hindutva groups or BJP. The report further gave examples of how Facebook failed to take action against hate speech.
Although these articles claim Facebook India’s bias towards BJP, Prasad, on the other hand, alleged that there is a bias against the right-wing within the company itself. Citing “credible media reports” Prasad stated that Facebook India Team “is dominated by people who belong to a particular political belief.” This includes people right from the Managing Director to other senior officials. He added that “people from this political predisposition have been overwhelmingly defeated in successive free and fair elections.”
Further referring to recent articles he said that “deeply vested interests aren’t satisfied with the shrinking space of one side of the spectrum in India and wants to throttle it completely.” He called the reports an “internal power struggle” within Facebook and added, “No other logic can explain how facts are being spun by selective leaks from within your company to try and portray an alternate reality.”
The minister also took a snide at Facebook’s fact-checking efforts. Calling it an issue that the tech giant was outsourcing to third-party fact-checkers, saying that the organisation was absolving “itself of its responsibility to protect users from misinformation and instead out-source this to shady organisations with no credibility.” He also claimed that there have been multiple instances in which Facebook had been used by anarchic and radical elements whose “sole aim is to destroy the social order.”
(With added inputs from The Quint)