Tinsukia: Congress Member of Parliament from Assam Gaurav Gogoi has shot a letter to Facebook India head Ajit Mohan expressing his “vehement disdain and alarm” over company’s prejudice towards the removal of misinformation and hate speech.
This comes days after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents exposing the social media giant and accusing it of fueling divisions, promoting fear-mongering and dehumanizing content.
Haugen testified before US law makers and said that social media needs to be urgently regulated.
As per reports released by the Wall Street Journal, last month, which were supported by documents collected by Haugen (a former data scientist at FB), serious allegations are being raised about Facebook’s knowledge and complicity in the spread of misinformation, hate and violence through the platform.
“Considering the pivotal role Facebook plays today in disseminating information and shaping public opinion, such allegations, if true, are likely to have an adverse public impact,” Gogoi said in his letter (a copy of which EastMojo has).
Gogoi has asked the social media giant to introspect and elucidate what action FB will take in the coming future to rectify the damage done so far.
Gogoi added that Ms Haugen’s revealed that Facebook Inc suppressed internal research that raised concern about the manner in which it dealt with the prevention and management of hateful content.
“This has exposed the adverse impact the platform has had on public discourse and the mental health of young individuals,” Gogoi, who is also member of the joint parliamentary committee set up in 2019 to look into the Personal Data Protection Bill that is expected to have implications for social media companies, said in his letter.
Gogoi added, “It is noteworthy that Ms Haugen worked on the company’s election interference team and expressed her displeasure towards the company’s lack of openness regarding the potential harm it was causing in that sphere, and others. This exposes that in events where there is conflict of interest between the good of the people and the profitable/favourable outcomes of the company, Facebook has been choosing the latter.”
A key information brought to the fore during this time has been related to Facebook receiving representations from politicians in Europe regarding their displeasure at being forced to take extreme position on their platforms. “This is explicitly worrying as we are no stranger to the rampant hateful and divisive content that is shared on your platform in India, especially during election seasons,” added Gogoi.
The allegations were also supported by a former FB employee Sophie Zhang.
“Despite FB situating itself as a pioneer for transparency and reiterating it’s mission to tackle disinformation and hate, it is disappointing to witness the company suppress information and key aspects of internal research from the public and its users based on convenience,” Gogoi said.
The Congress MP had, on an earlier occasion too, written to FB raising similar concerns. However, the latter did not bother to respond till date.
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