Delhi committee likely to probe Facebook officials over charges

Published on Aug 18, 2020 12:01 AM IST
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New Delhi: The Delhi Assembly’s peace and harmony committee on Monday said it will soon summon Facebook India executives including its public policy director Ankhi Das as it seeks to investigate alleged instances of “intentional and deliberate inaction” by the social media company to curtail hate speech by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The committee, headed by Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Rajendra Nagar, Raghav Chadha, said it had received “several complaints” after the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on August 14 published a report titled Facebook hate speech rules collide with Indian politics.

The WSJ report alleged that Facebook executives, particularly Das, cited business imperatives while choosing not to apply hate speech rules to at least four individuals and groups linked to the BJP, despite them being internally flagged for promoting or participating in violence.

Chadha said the committee will also investigate whether Facebook executives were complicit in the alleged orchestration of the February riots in northeast Delhi riots that left 53 people dead and around 400 injured.

“Delhi Assembly’s committee on peace and harmony has received several complaints emanating from a scathing article published in the WSJ. These complaints pertain to the alleged role of Facebook in deliberate and willful inaction on the part of the social media company to rein in hate speech and to impose and implement its own policies when it comes to curbing hate mongers. The complaints prima facie indicate that Facebook allegedly provided a platform for breeding communal discord. The committee has evaluated the complaints and has come to the conclusion that immediate cognisance of the matter is required. The proceedings of the committee have been set in motion from Monday,” Chadha said after the first meeting of the panel on the issue.

When contacted, Facebook declined to comment on the matter.

Chadha said the panel shall be sending summons to Facebook executives including Das.

“The committee shall convene its meeting this week to initiate the proceedings forthwith. The committee aims at redressing the issue at the earliest, therefore, the proceedings shall be expedited in order to put this issue to its logical conclusion. If needed, it will also give its recommendations to the Assembly. The sole intention is to ensure and promote peace and harmony in the NCT {national capital territory} of Delhi. No unholy nexus or no alliance between a social media platform and hate mongers can be allowed to breed with a view to disturbing the communal harmony in the city,” he said.

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