Former senior FB official to appear before peace panel
A former senior Facebook official is scheduled to depose as a witness before the Delhi Assembly’s peace and harmony committee, which is investigating complaints received against the social media company for allegedly failing to have taken down hateful content, especially during the Delhi riots in February, during which at least 53 people died.
A digital strategist and author, Mark S Luckie, who worked as a manager with Facebook’s Global Influencers department between October 2017 and November 2018, will be deposing in the Assembly premises on Tuesday, as per a statement issued by the committee’s chairman Raghav Chadha on Sunday.
Luckie told HT over email, “As a former employee who has worked inside of Facebook and alongside the company’s decision makers, I provide a unique perspective on the company’s internal policies that have so far been shielded from outsiders.”
“While there is a general understanding of how Facebook’s inaction has led to the disenfranchisement of minority communities, little is known publicly about how hate and violent language are allowed to thrive systemically on the platform. In order for change to happen that prevents incidents like the Delhi riots from occurring again, government officials need to be equipped with the information and resources to keep Facebook accountable,” he said.
The committee’s statement identified Luckie as an “extremely crucial and important witness”.
“For the very first time, an international Facebook employee has come forward to depose before a committee in India… He (Luckie) has claimed that Facebook has been the centre of the systematic disenfranchisement of underrepresented voices and minorities are not being able to create a safe space for them on the platform... He has pointed out the visible partiality and selective application of policies and community standards by Facebook, where the distinction is created on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity etc,” the statement read.
Luckie told HT that the attributions in the assembly committee’s statements are accurate.
Facebook representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier, journalists such as Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Awesh Tiwari, Kunal Purohit, Prabir Purkaystha, founder of fact-check site Alt-News Pratik Sinha and digital rights activist Nikhil Pahwa, have deposed as expert witnesses before the committee.
In September, the committee had sent summons to Facebook India vice-president and managing director Ajit Mohan, who moved the Supreme Court. The committee then told the top court that it had summoned Mohan as a “witness”.
The peace and harmony committee was set up on March 2.
“Through Mark S Luckie, the Committee shall be acquainted with the subtleties of the huge incorporation, especially from someone who has worked closely within the framework,” Chadha said.