Congress attacks Facebook, seeks probe against it for ‘influencing elections’

Congress spokesman Pawan Khera accused Facebook of inaction during the 2020 Delhi riots and the West Bengal elections this summer
File photo: Congress spokesman Pawan Khera. (Photo Courtesy-Twitter)
File photo: Congress spokesman Pawan Khera. (Photo Courtesy-Twitter)
Updated on Oct 25, 2021 04:39 PM IST
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ByIsha Sahai Bhatnagar

The Congress on Monday attacked Facebook while reiterating its allegation that the social media company influences elections in India in favour of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and demanded a probe into the matter.

“We demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee to look into Facebook’s role of influencing our elections, in trying to compromise and undermine our democracy, and in trying to shape opinions through fake posts,” said Congress spokesman Pawan Khera. He called the company “Fake-book”.

The attack came after The New York Times cited Facebook’s internal documents and said they show “a struggle with misinformation, hate speech and celebrations of violence” in India. Researchers at the social media giant pointed out that there are groups and pages “replete with inflammatory and misleading anti-Muslim content” on its platform.

In February 2019, a Facebook researcher created an account to look into what the social media website will look like for a person living in Kerala, the New York Times reported. “For the next three weeks, the account operated by a simple rule: Follow all the recommendations generated by Facebook’s algorithms to join groups, watch videos and explore new pages on the site. The result was an inundation of hate speech, misinformation, and celebrations of violence, which were documented in an internal Facebook report published later that month.”

The report said internal documents include details on how bots and fake accounts tied to the “country’s ruling party and opposition figures” were wreaking havoc on India’s national elections.

Khera cited the company’s reluctance in banning the Bajrang Dal although an internal report, according to the Wall Street Journal, termed the Hindu nationalistic group a “dangerous” organisation, as “it would anger the ruling party”. He questioned why was the government was not uttering a word against Facebook.

Khera accused Facebook of inaction during the 2020 Delhi riots and the West Bengal elections this summer. “They are knowingly furthering the agenda of the ruling party and its ideologies,” he said.

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