Congress Reiterates Demand for Probe Into Allegations Against Facebook

In the light of allegations that the social media giant did not implement its hate speech laws to favour BJP politicians, Rahul Gandhi said its "brazen assault" on India's democracy and social harmony has been "exposed".

New Delhi: Claiming a “nexus” linking the BJP and Facebook, the Congress on Tuesday asked an inquiry into it, with Rahul Gandhi stating that international media has “exposed” the social media giant’s “brazen assault” on India’s democracy and social harmony.

Tweeting against the social media giant, Gandhi tagged a recent report by the Wall Street Journal on how questions were raised by Facebook employees on its India team’s neutrality after an executive posted internal messages allegedly favouring the BJP.

“International media have fully exposed Facebook’s and WhatsApp’s brazen assault on India’s democracy and social harmony,” he said.

“No one, let alone a foreign company, can be allowed to interfere in our nation’s affairs. They must be investigated immediately and when found guilty, punished,” Gandhi tweeted.

The Congress released a statement on Tuesday saying that as “elucidated” by the Wall Street Journal and Time, Facebook India and WhatsApp have been used to promote Modi and the BJP’s social media campaign.

Meanwhile, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a three-page letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, alleged “bias and inaction” by individuals in the Facebook India team on complaints by people supportive of right-of-centre ideology.

Also Read: On BJP’s Request, Facebook Pulled Down 14 of 44 Flagged Pages, Reinstated 17 Deleted Pages

Tagging Prasad’s letter to Zuckerberg on Twitter, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala claimed, “Modi Government comes to the rescue of prejudiced offenders of Facebook India as the ugly nexus is exposed!…. This is ‘pot calling the cattle black’.”

He also questioned why the Modi government was not agreeing to a JPC probe into the issue.

Another report in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month and one in Time magazine had brought to fore similar allegations that the social media giant did not implement its hate speech rules against BJP leaders and “Hindutva pages and accounts”. The reports said that Facebook India’s public policy head Ankhi Das was of the opinion that acting against such accounts would harm the social media platform’s business prospects in the country.

Citing international media reports, the Congress in its statement asserted that Facebook’s global leadership has been aware of the biases and partisanship but remained willing participants, “proving that the unholy nexus between BJP-FB has hit the nerve-centre of our nation’s democratic functioning”.

This blatant shielding of BJP-leaning Facebook pages is nothing short of a deliberate attempt to manipulate the public opinion in India, the party alleged.

“The blasphemous nexus between the BJP and Facebook is for all to witness and must be investigated without delay,” it said.

The Congress has written two letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking action against its India team, an independent probe into their functioning and replacing them.

Facebook has claimed that its platform prohibits hate speech and content that incites violence, adding these policies are enforced globally without regard to political affiliation.

(With PTI inputs)