India’s opposition parties quiz Facebook over political bias

Platform Industry News: Facebook India

Opposition lawmakers from an Indian parliamentary board accused Facebook of favouring the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during a meeting to question the social media giant on its content regulation.

The IT panel, led by lawmaker Shashi Tharoor of the opposition Congress Party, contested Facebook’s India manager Ajit Mohan for two or more hours.

It had summoned Facebook after The Wall Street Journal published a story last month saying Ankhi Das, the US technology giant’s Public Policy Director for South and Central Asia, had compared the shooting down of posts by a BJP politician who espouse Indian Muslims traitors.

At the hearing lawmakers from opposition parties, including the Congress, slammed Facebook for not carrying down inflammatory or hate material posted by users with right-wing ideology or by reports related to the BJP, at least six panel members told Reuters.

Mohan was told Facebook was biased toward the BJP as it received paid ads from government ministries, the sources stated.

BJP lawmakers on the other hand, accused Facebook of bias towards the Congress party, sources on the panel added.

Mohan gave the panel a presentation on Facebook’s content polices, and re-affirmed the platform’s neutrality, according to sources.

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Facebook”remains committed to be an open and transparent platform”, the company said in a statement issued following the meeting.

Hours before the board hearing, a regional party governing India’s West Bengal state, made public a letter which accused Facebook of being partial to the BJP, adding to the clamour of opposition voices that have been criticising the organisation’s content regulation clinics.

In a letter to Facebook manager Mark Zuckerberg, dated the 31st of August, West Bengal’s ruling party, the Trinamool Congress, said the organisation’s recent blocking of pages and accounts in the country pointed to the links it had with the BJP.

“There is enough material now in the public domain, including internal memos of senior Facebook management, to substantiate the bias,” Trinamool Congress spokesman Derek O’ Brien wrote in the letter.

“Please do it all can take to urgently work towards maintaining the integrity of the system at the Indian electoral process.”

West Bengal will hold state assembly elections early next year.

On Tuesday, India’s technology minister slammed Facebook for censuring content posted by users who supported right-wing ideology.

Even Facebook workers have questioned the business’s content policies in India, Reuters has reported.

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Menlo Park, California-headquartered Facebook has said it’s a non-partisan system and it’ll eliminate content which violates its own community standards.

The hearing ended with no resolution on Wednesday and Facebook agents will be summoned again after the panel, whose term expires on the 12th of September, is reconstituted, Tharoor told journalists.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘India’s opposition parties quiz Facebook over political bias‘ article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Nigam Prusty. Additional reporting by Abhirup Roy. Writing by Sankalp Phartiyal. Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Elaine Hardcastle.

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