Congress leader KC Venugopal(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Congress leader KC Venugopal(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

Congress writes to Mark Zuckerberg, calls for company probe into Facebook India’s hate-speech bias

The Congress party has also suggested a new team must be appointed to lead Facebook’s India operations till the high-level inquiry is completed.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Meenakshi Ray | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 18, 2020 02:32 PM IST

The Congress party on Tuesday asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to probe allegations that the social media company’s India team meted out favourable treatment towards the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

KC Venugopal, Congress’ general secretary (organisation), has written to Zuckerberg referring to the Wall Street Journal report, which alleged that Facebook’s India policy head Ankhi Das ‘provided the Bharatiya Janata Party with favourable treatment on election-related issues’. He also asked Zuckerberg to set up a high-level inquiry into the Facebook India leadership team and their operations.

“This is a damning and serious allegation of Facebook India’s interference in India’s electoral democracy,” Venugopal has said in the letter.

“As India’s oldest political party that fought for the nation’s freedom and established electoral democracy through adult franchise, it is deeply disturbing to note that your company may be a willing participant in thwarting the very rights and values that our founding leaders sacrificed their lives for,” he added.

The Congress party has asked the company to make public all instances of hate speech posts since 2014 that were allowed on the platform. The party has also suggested a new team to lead the India operations must be appointed till the high-level inquiry is completed.

A war of words erupted between the Congress and the BJP following the Wall Street Journal report. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had accused the BJP and RSS of spreading “fake news” using Facebook and WhatsApp to influence the electorate, triggering a sharp counter-attack from Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Prasad, on his part, reminded the opposition party of its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica issue.

Congress and the CPI (M) have demanded a probe by a joint parliamentary committee into the allegations. Union parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi has dismissed the call for a JPC probe.

Facebook is yet to comment over Congress’ demand.

(With agency inputs)

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