Facebook Took No Actions Against Fake Accounts Linked To BJP MP: Whistleblower

A former data scientist at Facebook, Sophie Zhang has accused the site of selective action.

2 min read
Facebook Took No Actions Against Fake Accounts Linked To BJP MP: Whistleblower

A former data scientist at Facebook, Sophie Zhang, who has now turned whistleblower, has accused the social networking site of 'taking selective action against fake accounts in the run-up to last year's Delhi elections,' according to a NDTV report.

Zhang, who worked with Facebook for three years has claimed that the BJP, the Congress, and the Aam Aadmi Party all used fake accounts to influence the polls. While other accounts were taken down, only the network of accounts directly linked to a BJP lawmaker was not removed by Facebook, she told NDTV:

"We took down four out of the five networks, but the fifth one - at the last moment, right before we were going to take it down, we realised that it was tied to a BJP politician, a Member of Lok Sabha, and as soon as they realised that, I could not get an answer from anyone on what's going to be done with this network of fake accounts."

Recently a series of disclosures were also made by former employee and whistleblower, Frances Haugen. On Sunday, 3 October, Frances Haugen, a 37-year-old data scientist from Iowa, revealed her identity as the whistleblower who provided documents to WSJ in an interview with the CBS news show "60 Minutes".

Haugen’s disclosures paint Facebook as a multi-headed beast, filling in as the poster child for almost everything we fear about the Internet — from preferential treatment for elites to ignoring hate speech out of political expediencies to misleading the most high-profile accountability mechanisms it has set up.

She had accused the company of prioritising profit over dealing with hate speech and misinformation. She also revealed that "Facebook knew its products, including Instagram, were harming young girls, especially around body image", reported AFP.

She had also said that due to a lack of "Hindi and Bengali classifiers”, Facebook could not mitigate the "fear mongering and anti-Muslim narratives" advanced by pages associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

In the new disclosures by Zhang, she told NDTV that after identifying five fake networks and taking four down, "the only case in which we knew who was responsible was a BJP politician that I was not able to take down. Despite repeated reminders, Facebook even refused to acknowledge the problem," she told NDTV.

"Democracy cannot survive if there is one set of rules for the elites and powerful and one set of rules for everyone else," she added.

Facebook denied these claims and said they "fundamentally disagree with Ms Zhang's characterization of our priorities and efforts to root out abuse on our platform," according to NDTV.

(With Inputs from NDTV and AFP)

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Topics:  BJP   Facebook   Whistleblower 

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